Coca-Cola Donates $500,000 To Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey’s first lady marked a symbolic milestone on the first day of summer.

Mary Pat Christie hammered the final board into place on the Seaside Heights boardwalk that was destroyed nearly eight months ago by Superstorm Sandy, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“It’s remarkable and it says a lot about the resiliency of the New Jersey people,” Christie said. “We can all have our waffles and ice cream. We can all have our arcade to play in.”

The initial project cost $3.6 million to replace the boards. Railings, lighting and ramps cost extra.

Christie thanked the workers for getting the job done.

“I was out here in the middle of the winter and I know that there were guys in heavy winter coats working on demolishing the boardwalk and rebuilding it,” Christie said. “I really commend all the hard-working people that were out here to make it happen.”

Residents saw the completion of the boardwalk as a rebirth for the shore community.

“In the end, it’s a beautiful day and people are happy and there’s a lot of positive energy around,” Justin Auciello of neighboring South Seaside Park told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney, admitting a lot of homeowners are still struggling to rebuild. “So it’s kinda this big dichotomy.”

“This looks beautiful out here,” said Kim Russ, whose childhood home in nearby Silverton was destroyed.

Seaside Heights is summer and that’s what it’s all about,” one man said. “You can’t have it without a boardwalk, and we’re open and it’s great to be back.”

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be done and look this nice,” one woman said. “It’s exceeded my expectations big time.”

Some residents said they think the new boardwalk looks even better than the one destroyed by Sandy.

“I am liking it when the governor says it’s better than ever, I think it’s better than ever. They have the new fencing and the new lights, and boardwalk looks great and people look happy,” Whiting resident Maria Sorresso said.

Even with the boardwalk re-opening some beach goers held off on diving into the water.

“It’s really cold, but not too rough, which is good,” Jasmine Santiago said.

Coca-Cola, which sponsored the event, gave Christie a $500,000 check for her Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Crews are still working on Casino Pier, where Sandy destroyed rides, and the Jet Star Roller Coaster, which ended up  in the ocean, has been demolished and hauled off.

Seaside’s boardwalk was featured in MTV’s “Jersey Shore” reality series and is home to a variety of arcades, amusement rides and food concessions.

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