Seaside Heights, like a small number of other Shore communities, has a special connection to eastern Europe, including embattled Ukraine, under attack by Russia. And it’s on display in a very big way.
Each summer, it has become a tradition for college students from the region to travel to the United States to work in tourism, including manning many of the attractions found along the Seaside Park boardwalk. It’s a slice of local lore that’s often only recalled by those who spent summers getting to know someone from another part of the world, or a co-worker along the boards. A good number of those exchange workers are employed by Casino Pier, home of the borough’s giant Ferris wheel overlooking the ocean.
This was a major motivator for Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra to travel to the border of Poland and Ukraine to volunteer assisting refugees and delivering local donations.
“Young Ukrainians have been coming to Point Pleasant Beach to enjoy a summer operating our rides, attractions and more for many years,” he said. “They’ve forged a special bond with so many of our residents. It’s nice to see the community coming together like this to give back in their time of need.”
Since last week, the giant Ferris wheel at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights has been lit up in the blue-and-yellow colors of Ukraine’s banded flag. Used since 1848, the flag represented the regions of the Ukrainian People’s Republic – with their vast yellow fields of crops thriving under a deep blue sky – before being swallowed up by the Soviet Union and forced to adopt the hammer and sickle – the old (and present) flag was outlawed until the USSR’s breakup in 1991.