Despite fire devestation, Seaside Heights celebrates centennial

September 14, 2013 5:11:17 PM PDT
The New Heights Festival to celebrate Seaside Height's centennial was off and running on Saturday afternoon.

It's only a few blocks away from the devastating Seaside Park fire scene that destroyed up to 50 businesses days ago.

All the vendors and businesses, not impacted by the fire, were open.

After a yearlong rebuilding effort in the wake of Superstorm Sandy's damage last fall, many people turned out on the boardwalk.

"We are resilient and all the homeowners and business owners are going to make it come back," said Alice Firgu.

The town is still in shock but this annual festival still going forth is their way of saying that they will not be defeated despite the devastating double whammy that hit them in the last year.

Many people came out for the weekend to show their support, convinced this town will survive once again.

"This area is very strong. The people are strong here and I really think they're going to rebuild and come back stronger. They've proven that already," said Tony Lockett.

"If they give some necessary funding, if the federal government steps in and realizes that it's a resource for a whole region and not just New Jersey, it would be nice to see," said Rick Pietras.

Governor Chris Christie, who is up for re-election in November, got a rock star reception at the festival.

He once again surveyed the fire damage, then went to a closed door meeting with at least 30 business owners who lost everything.

What are they most hoping for to help them rebuild?

"Loans, grants would be nice," said Joyce Till.

"Aid, grants would be the best," said Barry Till.

Gov. Christie promised the business owners that his relief efforts on their behalf will be aggressive.

"We've already come up with some plans and ideas that I think will help them in a really significant way at the state level and we're trying to get help on the federal level as well," he said.

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