The Five Jersey Shore Stories of the Summer (Revisited)

Looking back on the trends that defined the summer of 2014 down the shore.

In May, I made predictions of five Jersey Shore stories we’d be talking about this summer. Here’s how those five stories played out.

1. The Revel sale

What I said then: “If it sells, that selling price will be an indication of Atlantic City’s gambling market, which right now is about as healthy as the smokers chained to slot machines at Revel right now.”

What happened: This has been the story of the summer. As of right now, Revel is closing on Sept. 1 and 2 (hotel, followed by casino). The Showboat is bowing out, too, scheduled to shut its doors on Sunday, and Trump Plaza has threatened to go away. While there’s still some hope (Revel still says it’s courting possible buyers, and Caesars, who owns Showboat, was showing around a prospective buyer this week), this is all very bad. The health of the Atlantic City gambling market has moved from smoker at a slot machine to on life support at the ICU.

The fallout will continue — a lot of people are about to lose their jobs. Many casino employees live inland, and those communities will take the hit when unemployment runs out. If Gov. Chris Christie finally declares he is running for president, Atlantic City will become a campaign issue (complete with 24-hour news networks playing footage of when he promised a new life for the town when Revel opened). Expect more out-of-town journalists who have never been to town before to come in and write think pieces about Atlantic City, too. It’s okay to cringe. I have been all summer.

2. Beach Access

What I said then: “Beach access is a problem in parts of LBI, too, where owners mark that beaches in front of their homes are private, when they’re not. And there’s a movement to tie Sandy recovery funds to increased beach access since they’re public beaches using public funds to stay full of, well, sand. Expect a huge, expensive fight over this one.”

What happened: As expected, Surf City in LBI is saying “no way” to this. On August 13th, their city council said they would oppose the measure tying federal funds to making sure beaches were accessible and open to non-residents by providing free restrooms for people who can’t just walk up to their massive beach houses.

3. Union League comes to Stone Harbor

What I said then: “I’m not surprised the Union League set its sights on Stone Harbor. It’s long been a vacation spot for the Mainline/Haddonfield crowd, so of course they bought a restaurant there and not among that new money crowd over in Avalon or, God forbid, the plebes of Sea Isle.”

What happened: Well, the obvious: We lost the Backyard. I haven’t heard much about it, though, probably because I didn’t go to Dîner en Blanc.

4. Sandy

What I said then: “We’ll hit the two-year anniversary in October, but expect this to be affecting policy for a long time. I still hear people talking about the Storm of ’62. Sandy will be on our lips more than 50 years from now, too.”

What happened: Exactly that. The fallout from Sandy continues to spiral on, from people still fighting with insurance companies to problems getting meters to lifted homes. The North Jersey beach towns are now experiencing what changed our South Jersey towns in the 2000s. Here, then, homes gained so much in value that owners cashed out and either sold their beach bungalows or moved off the island, which has led to plummeting year-round population and towns catering to a wealthier crowd (The Princeton in Avalon, of all places, has a raw bar). In North Jersey beach towns, a lot of locals can’t afford to stay, either because insurance won’t cover the damage to their homes or they can’t afford to lift their homes, so they’re selling to people who can either buy the flood insurance or who can self-insure.

Oh, and Margate still thinks they don’t need dunes and are now arguing about how much they should spend on that fight. Because, even in the face of rising sea levels and the proven efficacy of dunes in preventing storm damage, someone has to think of saving the views for beach-front parties.

5. What t-shirts will be popular in Wildwood this year?

What I said then: Every year, Dan McQuade writes a report of the weird, the wacky and the downright disgusting Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt offerings. I was on the Ocean City Boardwalk on Easter, and everything there seemed to be a holdover from 2013 (still a lot of gangster Marilyn Monroes). C’mon Dan. Can you go down on Memorial Day weekend? I’m anxiously awaiting your report.

What happened: Dan gave us the low-down, as usual. And it was weird. As usual.

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