Jersey shore reopens for 1st post-Sandy summer
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, holds 6-week-old Willow DeParre, as first lady Mary Pat Christie looks on as they greet people during the opening of the New Jersey shore, Friday, May 24, 2013, in Seaside Heights, N.J. Christie cut a ribbon to symbolically reopen the state's shore for the summer season, seven months after being devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Several beach communities have annual beach ribbon cuttings, announcing they are back in business. But this year's ceremonies are more poignant seven months after a storm that did an estimated $37 billion of damage in the state. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey rolled out some of its big guns Friday to proclaim that the shore is back following Superstorm Sandy, using Gov. Chris Christie and the cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore" to tell a national audience the state is ready for summer fun.
In fact, they even hired fun. — the rock band whose anthem "We Are Young" captures the spirit of this blue-collar oceanfront playground that was devastated by the Oct. 29 storm and has been furiously rebuilding ever since. The band played a free concert on the beach.
"This is known as a happy place," said Paul "Pauly D" Del Vecchio, one of the cast members of "Jersey Shore," which was filmed here until wrapping up last year. "Right after the storm, it was the exact opposite: dead, silent. To see this place being rebuilt makes me happy."
Christie, who has been racing up and down the shore opening boardwalks and talking up shore tourism all week as the summer kickoff approached, appeared on the "Today" show Friday, giving him a national pulpit to preach his message of recovery.
"Anybody who lives in New Jersey, the Jersey shore is in your heart," Christie said. "This means everything to our state."
The show was broadcast from Seaside Heights, where the storm swept a roller coaster into the ocean, making for one of Sandy's iconic images. The roller coaster was taken away this month, but Casino Pier, the seaside amusement park where it used to sit, plans to have 18 rides open this summer.
Christie said about 80 percent of the shore will look as it did last summer, and acknowledged more work needs to be done to fully recover. He is to tour parts of the storm-hit shore next Tuesday with President Obama.
Peg Allen, of Franklinville, N.J., with arms raised, watches a live performance by musical group Fun at the Seaside Heights boardwalk, Friday, May 24, 2013, in Seaside Heights, N.J. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cut a ribbon to symbolically reopen the state's shore for the summer season, seven months after being devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Several beach communities have annual beach ribbon cuttings, announcing they are back in business. But this year's ceremonies are more poignant seven months after a storm that did an estimated $37 billion of damage in the state. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Declaring the shore officially open for the summer, the governor cut a 5.5-mile long ribbon symbolically linking some of the shore towns that were hardest hit by the storm. Mike Janela, an adjudicator for Guinness World records, said the ribbon set a new record, besting the previous longest ribbon by about a mile in length.
Tourism is a $38 billion industry in New Jersey, and shore towns are counting on a good summer to help them recoup major losses they incurred after the storm. A storm that parked itself over the shore and was expected to bring rain through Sunday morning didn't exactly help.