By Lauren Wanko
It’s been stuck in the Atlantic Ocean for more than six months. Today, a 150-ton crane finally began pulling pieces of the Jet Star roller coaster from the water.
“You know it’s been one of those double edge swords you go through. I think it’s the thing that got us the publicity, it put the eyes of the world on Seaside Heights,” said Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers. “So now what we’re seeing is the next natural step in progression. So it shows that we’re progressing, we’re moving along in a good timeline too, that we’re in the next stage of the new Seaside Heights.”
Crowds gathered along restaurant balconies to snap pictures. It was emotional for Oakland resident Patricia Hurley.
“Oh it’s sad because I used to ride that roller coaster years ago when I was a kid, so it was kinda sad,” Hurley said.
“Just like the rest of the boardwalk, it means a lot to many people growing up here in Jersey. Everyone’s been pretty much to the boardwalk so it’s sad, but I mean they’re doing such a fantastic job building it back up, the memories will be there even though everything is going to be kinda new,” said Waretown resident Lucy Sutera.
“I’m glad because it shows that they’re having the progress that they need. That is a hazard. They could not open a beach with that,” said Pompton Plains resident Carmen Holster.
Casino Pier hired Weeks Marine to remove the coaster and three other rides submerged underwater. The job’s estimated to take about 48 hours. Crews will work around the clock.
“They did, before they started the project, do a hydro-graphic survey to make sure they knew where everything was in the water, to make sure the project was done completely,” said Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach Spokesman Toby Wolf. “Once they do the removal process, they will do sonar imaging again to ensure that everything has been removed.”
Casino Pier officials already have a plan in place for portions of the now famous ride.
“We have requested to have a section of the Jet Star given to us that we will place on the reconstructed Casino Pier, in 2014 as a memorial and tribute not only to Casino Pier but to the entire Jersey Shore and our resiliency,” Wolf said.
“As much as we’re tired, we’re also bolstered by the fact that we’ve got a big summer coming up and we’re looking forward to getting into it and getting back to work, in whatever normal’s gonna be for the summer,” said Operations Director Lou Cirigliano.