Business owners on the boardwalk in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights are dealing with the aftermath of the fire that took out more than 30 businesses on Thursday.

When you grow up and live in Jersey, for most of us, “the boardwalk” at any one of our numerous beaches is a staple of your childhood.  And for mine, it was Seaside.

It was painful to watch the fire, after dealing with Hurricane Sandy.  The Seaside boardwalk was a place where our families all made memories together, and as teenagers, where we…well, we did the things teenagers do on the boardwalk.  It felt like a kick to the stomach to see a huge chunk of those memories floating in the ocean and throughout the flooded streets in shattered pieces last year.

And for so many others who make their living on the boardwalk, it’s truly a way of life that’s uniquely Jersey.  A lot of these shops have been around forever, it seems.  Some have passed through generations in families.  And Governor Christie is right on the mark when he says it’s a place that has provided generations of memories.

From Star Ledger:

It took thousands of gallons of water from street hydrants, swimming pools and even Barnegat Bay to put out the great Seaside boardwalk fire, and still portions of the ruined amusement area continued to burn today.

Even as fire investigators began their effort to determine a cause of the blaze, Gov. Chris Christie promised he would not allow the fire to finish what Hurricane Sandy had started nearly a year ago.

“We lost a place that has provided generations of memories, but we will rebuild,” said Christie. “There’s going to be focus on what was lost. We have an obligation to be aggressive and rebuild. We’re going to get back on our feet and do what we need to do.”

That said, watching the destruction of the boardwalk in Seaside all over again on Thursday was difficult and my heart goes out to all the good folks there.

It was the sharp work of those firefighters that finally stopped the blaze.  Using the equipment of a construction crew that happened to have been on site working, they dug a 25 foot trench in the boardwalk to form a break ahead of the fire’s path, according to the Star Ledger.

That was a reminder to me of how strong Jersey folks are.  When you hear stories about the grit and determination of those who rebuilt in the aftermath of Sandy, they really are true.

The owner of the Carousel Arcade lost most but not all of it to Hurricane Sandy.  He and his family had it rebuilt in time for the summer season.  While Thursday’s fire took that away, Bob Stewart vows they’ll rebuild the arcade yet again.

From NBC News:

“As you can see, it’s all gone,” Bob Stewart said.

“I’ve been up here on the boardwalk 49 years and in this past year, I’ve seen devastation like I’ve never seen,” he added.

His kids grew up on the boardwalk, and met his wife there.

“This is the love of my life. You know, I never worked a day in my life because I worked on the boardwalk and I say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life — that’s me,” he said.

“I used to kid my kids and say, when I die, pop a couple of boards up and slide me underneath the boardwalk because I love the boardwalk.”

But first, Stewart said, he’ll be working to help Seaside rise from the ashes.

“We can do this,” he said. “We can do this.”

People here really are tough and strong.  And when they say they’ll rebuild again, they mean it.  That’s part of what makes New Jersey the great place that it is.  And we all look forward to creating new memories.


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