The Penguins are back!: Jenkinson's Aquarium and Sweet shop are now open for the first time since superstorm Sandy. The Arcade and Fun Center will open tomorrow February 2. Reconstruction of the boardwalk continues. Video by Bob Bielk
Pt. Pleasant, NJ-2/1/13-Bob Bielk/ Asbury Park Press Staff Photographer-Jenkenson's Aquarium and Sweet Shop on the Pt. Pleasant boardwalk opening for the first time since superstorm Sandy. Reagan Quarg, Penguin Manager, talks to a group of school children about the animals.
Pt. Pleasant, NJ-2/1/13-Bob Bielk/ Asbury Park Press Staff Photographer-Jenkenson's Aquarium and Sweet Shop on the Pt. Pleasant boardwalk opening for the first time since superstorm Sandy. People at one of the aquarium exhibits.
The aquarium is one of a handful of attractions along Jenkinson’s Boardwalk to re-open to the public this weekend after three months of recovery work. The aquarium, its gift shop and the nearby Sweet Shop opened on Friday and today, guests can visit the Pavilion Arcade, Frank’s Fun Center, Jenkinson’s South Arcade and Pavilion Fast Food.
Toms River resident Megan Belegu, 33, took advantage of the re-opening Friday, hitting the aquarium and candy shop with her young daughters and husband.
“These are the things we normally do on a weekly basis and it’s been sad not being able to come over here,” she said. “We wanted to get back as soon as possible to support our local businesses.”
The aquarium, sweet shop and three of Jenkinson’s four arcades are usually open year-round and lost three months of business because of Sandy, said Toby Wolf, Jenkinson’s spokeswoman. In all three cases, the storm surge wiped out the basements, leaving offices, inventory and tanks swamped in water and sand, Wolf said.
Jenkinson’s officials attribute the quick re-opening to good planning and a little luck.
The aquarium had retaining walls built into the ocean side of the basement when it was constructed in 1991. Those walls were meant to buckle in the case of an ocean surge like what happened during Sandy, director Cindy Claus said.
The night of the storm, water broke through two retaining walls, washing in mounds of sand and forcing out into the parking lot and street all the tanks and equipment left there, she said.
The basement is where the aquarium has a quarantine space and veterinary spot, but all animals were moved upstairs before the storm hit and were spared, Claus said. In all, the aquarium has more than 1,800 animals from penguins to sharks.
Eight members of the staff stayed inside the aquarium through the storm and the week after to keep the animals safe. A power outage forced them to work with small generators and battery-operated aerators, which act as an air source, because pumps stopped working, she said.
There is still some work to do yet, but Claus and her staff were glad to re-open. Among other visitors, they welcomed more than 200 school children through the aquarium on Friday.
“It was definitely a change being closed,” said Katie Gillis, assistant director. “The people are what gives the aquarium life. The purpose of our being here is to educate.”
The fourth arcade, South Beach Arcade, sustained the most damage and lost everything it had, Wolf said. They hope to take advantage of having to rebuild from scratch by adding a new attraction, an interactive motion theater, she said.