Shamong, New Jersey: Mighty Joe the Gorilla
Mighty Joe's Gas, Grill & Deli
A beach jungle colossus, 25 feet tall, rehabilitated as an inland memorial to a beloved son, "Mighty Joe." Roadsideamerica.com Report...
Visitor Tips and News About Mighty Joe the Gorilla
George was purchased privately and now looms over a gas station called Mighty Joe's on Route 206 South in Shamong, New Jersey. He was purchased to memorialize the owner's son, Joe Vallanzano, who died of cancer and was considered "Mighty Joe" for the valiant fight against his disease.[Tabernacle MAC!, 05/17/2008]
I was viewing your site and saw the picture of the gorilla in New Jersey. At the end of the page there was a different picture of a gorilla. This brought back the memory of seeing it when I was in Wildwood NJ. I had taken a picture of it from the boardwalk.[George Schmetzer, 02/05/2006]
A nice detail in this view of the early King Kong statue on Wildwood's boardwalk: his modesty wrap is composed of a city skyline. Kong has no legs, and is long gone. Wildwood's other big monkey, George, has also moved on....
The George the Gorilla statue that was used as a slide ride at the Islander Fun Park has been sold and moved to Larry Valenzano's Gas Station and Grill in Burlington County. They now call the gorilla "Mighty Joe." The gorilla was once named Kongo Pongo and Magilla when it was residing on the Wildwood Boardwalk before its move to the Islander Fun park. Sixteen people bid on the gorilla statue but the owner sold it to Valenzano for $2,000. It sold for $50,000 when it was first built. It needed extensive repairs to the ankles and supports and took five months of welding and other work. He named it in honor of his deceased son who passed away in 1999.[Mike Vlkovic, 09/19/2004]
The giant gorilla on the road into Wildwood has suffered a catastrophic collapse. In the Fall of 2002, George's ankles gave way and he pitched forward. Now only his oversized gorilla arms hold him up.
At the neglected "Islander Fun Park," George stands in an island of weeds at the center of an old go-cart track. The rusting staircase is still climbable, but getting creakier by the day. We visited with a CBS video crew in tow. They resisted our suggestion to shoot from under George, for some reason....
George used to have two playground slides jutting from his chest holes, and was a popular amusement on the Wildwood boardwalk. About five years ago he was retired and moved out to the Fun Park. Estimates to repair him (should the park ever open again) are a prohibitive $6,000.[Roadsideamerica.com Team, 06/13/2003]