Writing by Jenny

This is Not A Dark Ride

By May 14, 2021 No Comments
Picture it, Memorial Day Weekend 1976. 1,000 people pack a small club in Asbury Park, N.J. called The Stone Pony to watch a local band with a singer named Bruce Springsteen.  I myself have seen Bruce Springsteen live a few times in my life. I am a Jersey girl after all.

I grew up going to Wildwood beach in South Jersey and eventually living all over different parts of the Jersey Shore, but it wasn’t until recently that I took my first trip to Asbury Park.
So with my big crazy Jersey hair, accent, attitude and reckless driving, we headed up the parkway to see what this town is all about.

I asked my friend Bill to write a little recap of what it was like in Asbury back in the 70’s.

Bill: Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll and The Stone Pony.
ME: You had me at sex,drugs and Rock n Roll.
Bill: So many New Jersey musicians graced the Stone Pony’s stage. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Gary U.S. Bonds and many more. The club has evolved its taste in musical performers to stay current but it’s not unheard of for some of these earlier acts to make an appearance at an unannounced show. The music and bar scene gave the city a heartbeat albeit a faint one. Attendees would come into the town for a show and promptly leave afterwards, if your car was not stolen, breathing a sigh of relief once the town line was reached.
ME: Asbury was a rough town at one point, wasn’t it?
BILL: Yes, but after many false starts and half measures, the outlook for the city has improved. The Gay community, has embraced the area and has lead the resurgence.
ME: Congrats to the LGBTQ community!
BILL: The vacated houses are being renovated and new classier bars such as the Wonder Bar, The Brick Wall and several breweries have opened. The art scene has also improved, with many murals present in the boardwalk area.

ME: Yes! We are heading to visit the Wooden Walls later
Bill: Live music lives on with shows at The Stone Pony and it’s outdoor stage, the Convention Center located on the boardwalk and extending over the ocean, and many other venues. The city has emerged from those bleak days of old and while it still has some work to do in reducing its crime statistics and rehabilitating it’s image, positive steps have been made.
Thank you Bill. With all this information and an idea of where I wanted to go, my girlfriend Danielle, who is also a photographer, joined me for this little 2 part road trip.
The first trip consisted of us mainly looking for shells on the beach, finding an amazing thrift store ( Rebel Supply Company) and a candy store. However, we did come across the Berkeley Hotel.  Supposedly the hotel has had paranormal activity for over 100 years. In 1934, the S.S. Morro cruise ship exploded and washed ashore yards from the hotel entrance.  The local people say this caused the hotel to have paranormal activity. During Halloween time the hotel offers guided ghost tours.  The locals also say the convention hall on the boardwalk has paranormal activity as well
As Danielle and I headed back to Asbury for the second time we had to visit this shop in town called Paranormal Books & Curiosities.  They sell different books, crystals, sage, t-shirts, tarot cards etc. I wanted to visit this place because in October they do several different events such as pumpkin carvings, and a witch celebration, and in December they do a meet up for a day long Krampus Film Festival event. Visitors can dress up like Krampus and take pictures with the Krampus characters.

If you aren’t familiar with what Krampus, it’s a horned figure in Alpine Folklore, who during the Christmas season scares children who have misbehaved.

(Obviously Covid limited all events and cancelled a lot of festivities. Hoping in 2021 that these will return.)

The shop is definitely a unique cute place to visit and I definitely recommend checking them out on Facebook.

Asbury is also home to one of the biggest costumed gatherings, known as The Zombie Walk.  The Zombie Walk is a gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes.  During the Walk, all participants are encouraged to remain in character as zombies, lurching, shambling, dragging limbs and communicating only in a zombie-like manner.  All The Walking Dead fans rejoice that this is a real thing!

​The New Jersey Zombie Walk set the Guinness World Record for the “Largest gathering of zombies” two separate times. In 2010 the record was claimed with 4,093 undead counted on the Asbury Park Boardwalk and then was later reclaimed in 2013 with 9,592 zombies.

Another great attraction is The Wooden Walls Project.It is beautiful artwork that is displayed outside.  Around the corner from the art there is a tunnel with amazing artwork in it and local musicians were playing inside the tunnel as well.
At the beginning of the tunnel there is a gate which people hung up “love locks” that’s just what I call it. I’m not sure of the proper name but the meaning behind it is so beautiful.  You take a padlock and you lock the lock onto the fence as a symbol of your love. You can engrave a message or your initials into the padlock. Leaving a lasting mark of your journey together. As I was looking through the locks I came across several dog collars. I started to tear up. I recently said goodbye to my 14 year old lab, Miss Penny Jean, and I thought to myself what a beautiful message to hang on this fence.

Here’s my take on it…

Love is loving yourself
Love is loving your partner no matter what that love looks like straight or
Love is your family
Love is your friends

And LOVE is the unconditional love from a fur baby that is the greatest gift anyone could ever experience in this short time we have on earth.  Of all the things I have seen on my road trips seeing those dog collars locked to that fence will forever be one of my favorite most heartfelt genuine things to ever become a beautiful memory in my mind.

I set out to Asbury to explore different Halloween Spooky attractions but wound up with a life lesson about love.

As I walked out of that tunnel and back to my car to leave I thought back to this simple lyric from Bruce Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love”

“Then the lights go out and it’s just the three of us
You, me and all that stuff we’re so scared of
Gotta ride down, baby, into this tunnel of love”

Love is just a crazy ride and I can’t wait to experience that again.
Thank you Asbury!
Until next time
Hugs n Hisses

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