By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
A sea of people were on hand to greet British royalty in a Sandy-battered Jersey Shore town. Prince Harry was given a tour by Gov. Chris Christie, who took him along a stretch of newly-repaired boardwalk. Prince Harry talked about the resiliency of the people here.
“Oh it’s fantastic. It’s the American spirit .. everyone getting together and making things right. It’s fantastic …. really good to see,” said Prince Harry.
Since no visit here is complete without trying one of the games of chance, they both took their best shots and gave their prizes to children. Afterwards, they greeted a crowd of people who eagerly awaited this rare opportunity to see the prince. Among the lucky ones was Joie Pacifico and her dog Mattie.
Said Pacifico, “I always bring dogs and babies … and he said, ‘Who is she?’ . .. He asked how old she was and he then moved on.”
“I think it’s pretty nice of him to come and look at the New Jersey shore here and he’s a hell of decent guy I think and we’re a little excited to see him,” said Tony Santangelo.
“I think the thing that I was most taken by was his interaction with children and the first responders,” said Seaside Mayor William Akers. “It wasn’t like a photo-op for him, he was very genuine. It meant something to him and we’re very grateful for that, and it’s nice when it’s real and not stage.”
The prince and governor also stopped in Mantoloking, where they walked along one of the many hard-hit streets. Along the way, they stopped to get an update from the mayor about the damage caused by the superstorm and the efforts underway to get easements needed for dune projects to protect the shore from future storms. The brief tour gave the prince a glimpse of a few of the town’s 521 homes that were either damaged or destroyed.
Demolition work here is ongoing and that didn’t stop during the royal visit. But the prince did stop to greet residents and pose for photos. Although his time in Jersey may have been short, local officials believe it will make a difference.
“This has taken us worldwide and for the right reasons — that we’re rebuilding, that we’re back, that people care,” said Seaside Mayor William Akers. “We couldn’t have ever afforded this opportunity if it weren’t for somebody like Prince Harry coming to our community.”
His visit was designed to show the world the Jersey Shore is resilient and open for business.