SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey used a record-breaking gesture Friday to celebrate its recovery from a record-setting storm, proclaiming to the nation that the Jersey shore is back in business following Superstorm Sandy.
Gov. Chris Christie and a host of volunteers carried out a ceremonial ribbon cutting that broke the Guinness World record for the longest such undertaking. The 5.5-mile ribbon symbolically tied together some of the hardest-hit towns by Sandy, and bested the previous record-holder by about a mile, according to Mike Janela, an adjudicator for Guinness, who was present for the event.
"This is an incredible day for New Jersey," said Christie, who spoke even as front-end loaders carried poles and planks onto the sand for the still-not-quite-finished boardwalk. "Seven months ago I saw the devastation on this boardwalk. I knew that if we all worked hard we could get this done."
The event was part of a no-holds-barred rollout of summer in this famous resort town made infamous by the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore," which filmed here until wrapping up last year. Cast members joined Christie in urging tourists to return this summer.
"This is known as a happy place," said Paul "Pauly D" Del Vecchio. "Right after the storm, it was the exact opposite: dead, silent. To see this place being rebuilt makes me happy."
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, of "Jersey Shore," said crowds will be back this summer.
"You just come here to have a good time," she said. "It's a great place. You come here with your friends. Everybody's here, it's getting rebuilt; it's just amazing."
Her cast-mate Deena Cortese urged tourists to patronize Seaside Heights as it recovers.
"It's kind of like a family on the boardwalk here," she said. "Everybody needs to come this summer, especially for them."
The message of the day was that New Jersey is ready for summer fun. In fact, they even hired fun. — the rock band whose anthem "We Are Young" captures the spirit of this blue-collar oceanfront playground that was devastated by the Oct. 29 storm and has been furiously rebuilding ever since. The band played a free concert on the beach.
Christie, who has been racing up and down the shore opening boardwalks and talking up shore tourism all week as the summer kickoff approached, appeared on the "Today" show Friday morning, giving him a national pulpit to preach his message of recovery from a storm that caused $38 billion in damages in his state, and harmed or wrecked 360,000 homes or apartment units.