In the not too distant past, Asbury Park was the poor relation of the other Jersey Shore towns. Repeated efforts by residents and business owners to bring this jewel of the sea back to its early 20th century glory met with failure: race riots in the late sixties, "white flight", and more than one recession kept this beautiful old town on its knees for decades. But then a true revitalization took place at the turn of the 21st century, and Asbury once again became a hot spot to visit, not just for the great rock and roll (which continued to be a big draw even in the bad times), but for great restaurants, concerts and even, yes! the beach.
Then along came Sandy. Asbury Park was lucky enough not to suffer the devastation that some of its neighbors suffered, (Belmar, for example, lost huge swathes of its boardwalk), but parts of the fairly new boardwalk were destroyed, businesses were flooded and venerable old buildings such as the Casino and the Paramount suffered damage. But they are still structurally sound, and that's where the rebuilding and cleanup will begin.
But, as usual, Asbury Park residents and business owners picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and got right back into the swing of things. A 30 foot Christmas tree was decorated and lit as a symbol of the undying spirit of this town. All of the events that were originally scheduled in Convention Hall will go on as planned, even as the boardwalk is rebuilt in its shadows. To give the business owners a much needed boost, the town has declared that there will be free parking through the Christmas holidays (until January 1).
A sure sign that life rocks on in Asbury is the Asbury Music Awards, a tradition which continues to be held every December - in 2012, Sandy only succeeded in delaying this great tribute to live, original, independent musicians, she couldn't cancel it.
The Grand Arcade in Convention Hall will holds its Holiday Bazaar and Santa as usual is in residence, Scrooge will be playing at the Paramount Theatre just as it does every year as well as Unfailing Love Ministries' 9th Annual Christmas Spectacular. The Stone Pony, The Wonder Bar, Tim McLoon's Supper Club and Langosta Lounge all have full programs of the fabulous music Asbury is known for. And if you are looking for the hottest way to welcome the New Year, how about a Grateful Dead tribute at the Stone Pony, or the Shirleys at Tim McLoon?
And if New Year's is almost here, the Beerfest in January and the Spring Home show cannot be far behind. No, Sandy couldn't stop the City by the Sea- it could barely slow it down.
And Asbury rocks through the New Year, too! The Stone Pony will have its usual Band Competition, with 10 bands competing, all at the bargain price of $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Most rock venues are adults only, but since this one starts at 1:00 to fit all the bands in, you can bring your kids and start educating them early, since ALL AGES ARE ADMITTED. 21Of course, you still have to be 21 to drink in the BAR AREA.
No, there is no stopping Asbury Park, and it just keeps getting better. The beaches are better than ever, the boardwalk is better (with classier joints) than ever, and the food is better than ever. New restaurants, updated restaurants and renovated restaurants feed the body while the beautiful beach, architecture and ambiance feed the soul. Give Asbury a try once again and see what Sandy didn't do to it!
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