How the Mighty Are Fallen
Seaside Heights, New Jersey
In early August 2002, a riotous wind storm ripped its way across parts of New Jersey's Monmouth County, a region accustomed to chilly Nor 'easters and tidal surges more than quasi-tornados. There were two victims of note...
Roadsideamerica.com's Underground Junktorium took on deluge water due to a displaced downspout. As the Field Team obliviously roadtripped across Texas, RA's Home Crew narrowly avoided electrocution while yanking the Turd Bird Collection to safety. A precautionary visit by the fire department, a few power strips and broadband modems replaced -- and HQ was again operational.
A Jersey Shore Muffler Man was not so lucky. Seaside Height's Casino Pier, a family-oriented compaction of rides, arcades and thrills, has been home to three Muffler Men for many years. We noticed in early July 2002 that the attraction was tempting fate by positioning their repainted classic Muffler Man on the ocean end of the pier, near a roller coaster.
It was great for dramatic photos... until that freak storm hit. Gusts picked up the 20-ft. tall, hollow man -- all 380 lbs. of fiberglass. Beachcombers found him the next day near the surf line -- arm torn loose, feet fractured, decapitated, with major and minor cracks all over his body.
Over a year later we visited. The shattered M-Man still lay among pile of poles and fencing on the Pier, as reported by several tipsters. One of the Halfwits was down as well, in preparation for off-season storage. The new owners are taking more care with all the statues, which include two Vikings, a bald eagle, Mighty Mouse, an Indiana Jones-like explorer, and a striding "Pancakes House"-style lumberjack.
They haven't figured exactly what to do with their gravely wounded giant.
We appreciated that the M-Man wasn't just tossed into the trash. At the very least, the undamaged head could be redeployed as a scare along the path of one of the Casino's haunted rides. And Barnacle Bill, in nearby Ortley Beach, told us he'd love to find an M-Man hardship case to revive his fiberglass fashioning skills.