SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J.—They lined up by the dozens on Tuesday, cameras and iPhones in tow, taking their place along the balcony of a pizzeria recently reopened just off the beach. Nearby, construction workers hammered lumber into place to rebuild the boardwalk destroyed in October by Superstorm Sandy.
But just after noon, all work stopped and silence fell. A giant crane then tore into what has been the star attraction of this Jersey shore community in the six months since it was nearly destroyed by Sandy. The Jet Star—the roller coaster submerged in the Atlantic Ocean since Oct. 29, when the massive storm surge sucked much of the pier and boardwalk here into the sea—was finally coming down. For many, it has been an icon of the devastation left in Sandy's wake, a hauntingly beautiful reminder of everything the storm took from this working-class oceanfront community.
As a crane with a giant steel scoop struggled to rip apart the roller coaster's steel frame and tracks, the crowd took pictures.
"It's like dipping a fork into spaghetti," one man said as the crane struggled to free a jagged piece of steel from the lower section of the coaster.
The town is working furiously to get its amusement area reopened before Memorial Day weekend, the official launch of the summer tourist season.