This past week I decided to go down to the Jersey Shore to photograph two of the houses I lived in from ages 14-17, and to get a little R and R in Ocean Grove.
We arrived around noon on Saturday, left our stuff at the Inn and headed out to the boardwalk that runs through Asbury Park, along the stretch that used to be crowded with all kinds of attractions – sideshow, amusement, carousal and much, much more. When I lived in the area in the early 70’s it was in full swing. You could see anything and everything on the boardwalk, and it was a real education. The sheer diversity of the people opened my eyes and my mind, and that’s when I started to photograph seriously. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate one negative from that time. (Maybe they’re in the dream box.)
The ’80s ushered in a rapid decline – Asbury Park became a ghost town. Few ventured onto the boardwalk – or near it- for fear of the violent crime that had become the new attraction at this former seaside resort town.
By the mid-nineties some progress had taken place through local community-building efforts, but it never really came back to what it once was.
So as we were strolling along the boards looking for a place to eat lunch we noticed a lot of people in make-up and costume. But these weren’t your regular Halloween folks; there appeared to be a theme going here. As we approached Convention Hall, we saw signs for a Zombie Walk, to take place at 5 that afternoon, then a large concession selling Zombie makeovers for $10 (face only), $25 (extra gory) and $40 (full body).
We went for a bike ride and timed it to return to the boardwalk by 4:30. By the time we got back the event was gearing up – literally thousands of Zombies gathering for a couple-mile walk (not march) down the boards. And it was magnificent – I’ll let the pictures tell the story.