Vegan on the Jersey Shore, Part 3: Seaside Heights
When I spoke of my childhood memories of the Jersey Shore I was remembering our visits to Seaside Heights, an amusement-filled length of boardwalk that stretches into the Atlantic ocean. I hadn’t been there since I was a little girl and was happy to see that the place still had Carny spirit, a palpable energy of timeless weirdness. Sure, the amusements were updated a bit but squint your eyes and you’re a kid again in a world where efforts were rewarded instantly by colorful, overstuffed plush objects, safety was a mitt-skinned man pull-testing your seatbelt and fun was bartered in colorful cardboard tickets.
My nostalgia for timeless weirdness is why I love taking pictures of amusement rides. I love the moving parts, the brightly painted machinery, the tiny bulbs, the man-made chaos on top of a bright blue sky.
I was so disappointed to see that the Swing Ride I remembered, the one that swayed you out over the Atlantic ocean, had been replaced by this smaller one far from the pier’s edge. And I was all ready to tackle that ride that had made me cry hysterically 20+ years ago. This one would not do.
The water was off-limits, according to the roving 17 year-old beach patrol that rode back and forth pulling persistant crowds out of the water. Maybe it was the huge pink jellyfish, the strong undertow or that we did not purchase daily beach badges for the day ($10). We managed a few glorious dips however.
An aside, Bon Jovi’s ridiculous music video for In and Out of Love is my only Jersey Shore pop culture association. I’ve never seen Mtv’s Jersey Shore. This is a deliberate and conscious decision.
So I should mention something about food. Seaside Heights has standard amusement park fare: fried things. But they also have this great dairy-free frozen treat: Polish Water Ice.
This smooth, creamy treat is a water-based soft serve with texture that lasts thanks to its guar and xanthan gums. Sure, it is not the most natural treat, but it complements a sunny day at the beach–a welcome vegan option.