It was an honor to be invited to the grand reopening of the newly renovated (and highly legendary) Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Well, the place has a little father to go because although $21 millions has already been put into the restoration of the Pier—which had everyone from the Three Stooges to the Rolling Stone grace its former satin-curtained stage—the reopening only marked the first phase of the Pier’s grand re-emergence onto the AC cultural scene.
I got to go to the ribbon cutting ceremony led by Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro—whose spectacular cake for the event allegedly got destroyed in the rain--and numerous local AC luminaries and executives. So far The Pier has gotten additional rides (now numbering 26), new games and a much more diversified selection of food stands that include Southern Style ribs and sausage. There is an amphitheater in the works as we go to press, and not too far off—say, in a year or so—A-List artists will be performing on the Pier’s new stage. It’s truly a great and historical thing to look forward to! I saw Totie Fields opening for The Temptations when I was just shy of 9 in the summer of ’69. The odd pairing of acts made for a great afternoon of self-deprecating humor and sizzling soul! I can still see The Temptations performing in matching shiny suits and my brother swore he saw the group posing for photos in matching gold bathing suits on the beach earlier in the day! (Back then, the acts on the Steel Pier bill were all mixed up just like The Ed Sullivan show—the promoters knew the true meaning of the term “variety”!)
While in AC, I took advantage of checking out James’ Saltwater Taffy, a Boardwalk taffy legend who has seemed to merge with that other taffy legend Fralinger’s (that was featured on an episode of Boardwalk Empire). I got to stay at Caesars for a night thanks to winning the raffle at a recent Atlantic City Tourism press event at the Hotel Gansevoort in Manhattan recently. I stayed there once before in 1987 when I interviewed Smokey Robinson for my rock column in the Sunday New York Daily News. I still remember his opulent suite and the gold trim all around the hotel (as well as his young and pretty girlfriend). Nowadays, Caesars is sleek and modern, but the Roman statues still abound in a giant, classier “modern sculpture” form. They truly make a nice backdrop for the lobby, casino and hallways and small children like to imitate some of the funny positions they are in.
|James Taffy Store|
|View from my room on Caesars the 24th Floor|
|Ringo Starr Art|
|Classic AC Push Cart|
Ribbon cutting ceremony on Steel Pier shot courtesy Steel Pier Marketing Department; all others by Anne Raso.