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Fun rides to start spinning on battered NJ shore

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Entertainment,Travel

In another sign of a turn toward normalcy, amusement rides will start spinning this weekend at some parks and piers along the Sandy-battered New Jersey shore even as work continues to repair damage to buildings, boardwalks and other attractions.

The Keansburg Amusement Park, which the storm left under up to six feet of water, opens Saturday even though not all rides will be ready to operate and its popular Wildcat roller coaster is gone.

Co-owner Hank Gehlhaus said the park sustained millions of dollars in damage, very little of it covered by insurance, but told the Asbury Park Press: "We're not going anywhere."

In place of the Wildcat, being shipped off for restoration and a new life elsewhere, Keansburg is bringing in a new looping steel roller coaster which should be up by Memorial Day weekend, Gehlhaus said. The damaged carousel should be ready to ride in two weeks.

The kiddie ride section of the park at Jenkinson's Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach will also open this weekend, with other rides gradually returning heading into the summer season. Other attractions, including the aquarium and arcades, have been open since the start of February.

Jenkinson's will also hold its annual Easter egg hunt on Sunday, but the area of the search will be condensed because of makeshift dunes erected after Sandy to prevent further damage from a nor'easter, said Toby Wolf, marketing director.

Most of the rides were already off the boardwalk when the storm hit but the storm did claim the station used for the popular train ride. It is still being rebuilt. Work also continues a miniature golf course destroyed by Sandy and an arcade that was swamped.

The Casino Pier in hard-hit Seaside Heights, where a roller coaster was pitched into the ocean, won't be open. But Wolf said the water park and go-cart course in Seaside will be operating by Memorial Day.

In Atlantic City, where the main boardwalk that runs behind nine oceanfront casinos came through Sandy unscathed, preparations were under way for Saturday's opening of the Steel Pier, which also was undamaged.

Among its new attractions is a thrill ride called The Mix, which spins like a propeller and swings riders out over the ocean.

Most amusement areas are open only weekends until Memorial Day.

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