My friend Trish came out May 1st to 5th. We’ve known each other since college and she’s been out to NJ many times. I like to take her to things that she hasn’t been to before. Well this time had a special reason, because I was attending the New Jersey Hall of Fame 2007 Induction ceremony at New Jersey Performing Art Center (NJPAC) in Newark.
Because her flight was late and didn’t get in until around 9:00, we couldn’t do our usual welcome to New Jersey ritual which includes going to Sansone Brother’s Pizzeria in Franklin Park and then walking the campus of Princeton University.
Margate & Lucy the Elephant
Well on Friday, May 2nd we decided to head down to Atlantic City for the day. Not far from AC, just about 15 minutes south, is a small beach town called Margate – home to Lucy the Elephant. You heard that right, Lucy THE Elephant. Trish hadn’t seen Lucy before and I thought it would be a cool thing to do before heading into the city.
Built in 1881 as a way to attract investors to what is now Margate, Lucy stands six stories tall and is a one of a kind attraction. Sadly – Lucy had not always been in the greatest of conditions and was in terrible disrepair in the 1960’s with the threat of being torn down. In 1969 the Margate Civic Association formed by Edwin T. Carpenter and a group of Margate citizens. One of it’s missions was to save Lucy from the wrecking ball and find a new home for her and through this, the Save Lucy Committee was formed. On July 20, 1970 Lucy was moved to it’s current location, two blocks from where it had stood for almost 100 years. In 1976 Lucy was honored by being recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. While during this time,the exterior of Lucy was repaired, there was still a lot of work to do on her interior before people could once again step inside her. It was not until 2000 that she was fully restored and opened to the public – 30 years after her big move. She has had a long history, surviving a hurricane, the wrecking ball and even surviving the move to her current location.
Today Lucy the Elephant once again stands tall and proud at the beaches of Margate and allows people to step inside this historic treasure and receive a guided tour. I highly encourage anyone who is visiting Atlantic City to take a ride down to Margate where you may climb into the belly of the beast, so to speak and look through her eyes to see the ocean at her feet.
Atlantic City & Hard Rock Cafe
Our next stop was Atlantic City for some gambling and to say hi to my friend Linda who manages special events at Hard Rock Cafe where we decided to get a bite to eat. The Atlantic City Hard Rock Cafe is located on the boardwalk at the Trump Taj Majal, right across from the Steel Pier. For those who haven’t been to a Hard Rock Cafe, it’s more than just a place to eat, it’s basically a mini-museum featuring Rock & Roll memorabilia from band costumes, such as Kiss, to guitars and other instruments, to platinum records.
Atlantic City has changed a lot since even just three years ago, it isn’t just about the gambling anymore. Atlantic City has truly changed into a destination. The Pier at Ceasars is now open, which features high style shops to shop at. numerous great restauants. The Walk, features great outlet shopping such as Pac Sun, Nike and numerous others. In addition, you can enjoy fine dining. The Walk has finished it’s first two phases and is now starting work on the 3rd phase. There will be a total of four phases of development. Don’t forget, not only do you enjoy great buys at the outletys along The Walk – New Jersey has ZERO percent taxes on clothing and shoes.
If you haven’t been to AC is in a while, you would be surprised at how the casinos have changed. Up and down the boardwalk, as well as the Marina District, the casinos have refurbished and expanded. No more is the casino buffet the only dining available. Now you can enjoy first class dining. Borgata even features celebrity chef restaurants, such as Bobby Flays and nightclubs, such as The Mixx. Harrah’s has just finished their major expansion which is highlighted with The Pool at Harrah’s. The Pool at Harrah’s is truly an oasis within the casino and is only open to guests.
After Atlantic City, I thought Trish and I could go to Seaside for a bit. Being off season, not really much would be happening there except the nightclubs. We just wanted to get some pizza on the boardwalk – although no matter the season it’s always tourist prices. Trish hadn’t been to Seaside in a while and I only live about 5 miles from it now. The boardwalk is an entirely different place in the off season. Although the clubs are still open and people are still arond, it still seems very deserted and can be very eery. We got our pizza, talked and watched the drunk club goers come in and out. One episode was hilarious where a girl accidentally put sugar on her pizza thinking is was grated cheese and then dared everyone she knew to try it. According to her it wasn’t bad. 🙂
New Jersey History Fair
On Saturday May 3rd, we headed up to Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville NJ. This is where Washington made his famous Delaware Crossing from Pennsylvania to New Jersey on Christmas morning and surprised the Hessian Mercenaries in Trenton – his first victory of the Revolutionary War. Annually New Jersey holds a huge history fair that covers from the time of the Indians to Thomas Edison to World War II. You can see colonial cooking demonstrations, an early baseball game being played in historic uniforms and see Revolutionary War cannons being fired. You can also meet many historic New Jersey figures walking around – even Abe Lincoln was on hand who used to vacation in Cape May.
It is sort of interesting how so much of New Jersey history is unknown. For instance they had a group of pirates sining pirate songs and I overheard many people asking “what do pirates have to do with New Jersey history?”. Well pirates used to roam the waters of New Jersey, Blackbeard used to land on Long Beach Island and it is rumored that he had buried treasure there. Pirates are a big part of New Jersey history but are using associated with Florida and the Caribbean.
The fair is basically ordered in chronological order, with the Indian fishing village set up along the Delaware River, then moving through Colonial and Revolutionary History until finally it ends near the park’s visitor center with a World War II tent where World War II propaganda movies, cartoons and news announcements were being shown.
If you haven’t been to the New Jersey History Fair – I highly recommend it. It is held annual in May and each year you can get information on it from any one of the many state parks throughout New Jersey.
Six Flags Great Adventure
Now it was off to Six Flags Great Adventure. Yes, we went from a history fair where we walked in the same paths as Washington to then ride the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster – Kingda Ka – about a half hour away. Trish had been to Great Adventure numerous times before, but not since they had built Nitro, Superman – Man of Steel, El Toro, not to mention Kingda Ka. The park is so different than when she was last there with two whole new themed areas – The Golden Kingdom and Plaza Del Carnivale.
We basically just walked around and rode the new coasters that she hadn’t ridden before, ate at Granny’s where we had fried chicken. I love Great Adventure so it was a place I really wanted to get to on this trip. The last couple of times Trish has visited it’s been the “off-season” when GA was closed. The one time she came out – it started to pour down raining and I have photos of us riding the coasters soaking wet in the rain. That was one of the best times I’ve ever had at GA, as strange as it sounds.
New Jersey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – NJPAC – Newark
So today was the day. The whole reason why Trish came out at this particular time instead of waiting till the summer. This was the day for the first induction ceremony for the NJ Hall of Fame. Since I was on the voting academy I was invited to the VIP reception and we got to walk down the red carpet. It was odd walking the red carpet with all the camera and film crews there – not that they took our pictures since we aren’t famous (enough 🙂 ).
Once inside we had the reception which included an open bar along with cheese and crackers. Secretary of State Nina Wells (pronounced with a capital “I” not with a capital “e”) was there and I introduced her to Trish. I’ve known her for almost a year now and is a very down to earth person and extremely personable. The secretary is very supportive of tourism and has done a lot to try to improve the industry since the tourism department moved from commerce to the secretary of state’s office. There were also several other politicians, such as Lautenberg and Menedez there.
After the reception we were shown to our seats. The show was great although it took a bit for it to get up to speed. It’s great that New Jersey is finally starting to recognize the many great people who have lived in our state. People are so surprised when I tell them who comes from New Jersey. There are a number of people who weren’t inducted into the Hall of Fame in this go around who I really want to see up there. One of my key requirements is that they have to be a proud New Jerseyan. For instance, I really want Queen Latifah who is from Newark and who is very proud of where she comes from. There are so many people who deserve the honor, it will take years for everyone to be satisfied with who they think should be up on that stage. i always hear people saying “so and so should have been inducted”. I always have to point out that this is the first year and it will take time before everyone gets inducted. We have to be patient.
For those who don’t know, the goal is to have a physical museum. Right now there is no physical location. The plan is to have it located in the Meadowlands, actually this is mandated by law. Initially the NJ Hall of Fame was going to be the NJ Sports Hall of Fame and the law was written up that required it to be located in the Meadowlands. The law will have to be changed to allow it to be placed in another location. I would prefer something more central – such as somewhere around Great Adventure or in Trenton. I have stated this many times to people, I don’t want people associating this as a “North Jersey” museum – it’s a NEW Jersey museum and celebrates NEW Jersey. I have already heard complaints from people who live in southern New Jersey regarding this.
The climax for most people of the night was when Bruce Springsteen sand Glory Days. I went up to the stage and took a ton of photos of him and Danny Devito. In the photo above, you can see Yogi Berra, Bruce Springsteen and Danny Devito. It was a fantastic show.
After the show Trish and I went to eat at Don Pepe’s in Newark. I have to say – I like the main dining room better. This is the first time I had eaten in the side dining room area and I told Trish it looks like a funeral parlor. The food was still great, but the service wasn’t up to what I’ve usually gotten there. I still would still recommend it to people, however if the service we got there that night is going to be the norm, then I will stop going. The problem was really the service, they were very slow, yet were rushing us out at the same time. It took forever for me to get a refill on my coke, they didn’t come around to ask if everything was okay. This isn’t the normal service I am used to getting there.
Princeton & Sansone Brothers
Well since Trish didn’t get Sansone Brother’s pizza at the beginning of her trip, I decided that we would go to Princeton and then to Sansone Brother’s on the way back to the airport. We headed up there and basically was left with an hour or so in Princeton and an hour to eat. We had thought the flight was an hour later than what it actually was – so good thing we double checked on that.
We parked at the Princeton University Bookstore and then walked through Campus into town and walked a bit up Nassau Street. Trish had wanted to get a postcard for a friend who collects them and makes placements out of them. As I said we didn’t spend too much time there, but Trish has been there a done of times before. We also had headed up there rather late, around 12:00.
Our next stop was Sansone brothers, about a half hour from Princeton. I ordered the pizza on the way up there, so they would get a head start on making it and it would be close to being ready when we got there. Sansone’s is the absolute best pizza I have had in New Jersey. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water – sadly it is no longer around the corner for me, but now an hour away. So we ate the entire large pepperoni pie and headed up to the airport. BTW – I have pics of Trish eating the first slice of the pizza, but I know she would kill me if I posted them up here. 🙂
What other state can you step inside a six story elephant, walk in the steps of George Washington, ride the worlds tallest, fastest roller coaster, walk the campus of an Ivy League University and see Bruce Springsteen and Danny Devito, along with Yogi Berra, the descendants of Thomas Edison all in a weekend?
Websites of Interest
Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority