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The 1981 Marshall Tucker Band Concert - a NEW SPOTLIGHT!


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When I was young my family use to spend our weekends at a shore house we owned just beyond Long Beach Island, heading down on Friday nights and back up to home on Sunday nights. We made endless trips "commuting" between exits 120 and exit 58 on what was then a mostly two lane Garden State Parkway. Friday's trips typically weren't too bad but the Sunday night returns almost always guaranteed bumper to bumper traffic especially around the Seaside Heights toll booth. Our only direct alternative was to take Route 539 to Route 537 (past Great Adventure) to Route 9 South. That was the case up until the Marshall Tucker Concert when the word quickly spread of the horrendous traffic jam. Like the side effect fears of a crazy urban legend tale, we rarely took what we often called "the back way" home after that event. It really stunk because I always liked riding past the park.

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That was my first season working at the park and I very clearly remember how incredibly crowded it was that day. But, until my shift ended and we were trying to leave to go home, we had no idea just how bad things were on both the exit roads and 537. If I recall correctly it took about 2 hours to get out of the employee lot and down 537 to where the Sunoco gas station was at the intersection of 537 and 571. It wasn't stop and go traffic, it was just completely stopped. As you mentioned and as can be seen in some of your photos, people just got out of their cars regardless of where they were and were walking around. Some were attempting to walk down the park's entrance roads while others were either cutting through the woods or simply trespassing through the yards of those few homes on 537 that border GA's property. It really was insane and I can honestly say that I have NEVER experienced traffic that bad since. And, given that I regularly deal with traffic speeds that average between seven and fifteen miles an hour on a few of our freeways in Southern California, that's saying something.

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Wow, that's a huge crowd! Reminds me of the few Memorial Day Holidays I attended at Great Adventure. Those crowds were huge in the 1980s! Cars completely filled the main parking lot and poured over into the grassy openings. Great Adventure really could pull in crowds back then!

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Those pictures make Fright Fest Saturday's look like nothing compared to the crowds there. It's interesting to see cars parked anywhere and everywhere. With fewer coasters back then, I wonder how bad the lines for Rolling Thunder and the other rides were that day.

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^ I zoomed in on Rolling Thunder's line in one of the pictures. It looks like the entire queue was full and stretched in front of La Cantina (now La Cocina). The infield queues of the Fort are also wall to wall with guests waiting for the Runaway Train.

 

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Those look like some major lines. I guess they moved faster back then but still wouldn't have been fun to wait in. I remember waiting for Rolling Thunder in the 90's and the line for the left track would be at the covering under the brake run and it would take 20 minutes from that point. The last few years the ride was open it would sometimes take 20 minutes with the line on the stairs to the station.

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If you traveled to Great Adventure from westbound Route 537 in the early days, who remembers the signs that read something like "Great Adventure Traffc - OK to Drive on Shoulder"? That was when highway was just one lane outside the park. Around that same time, there were also signs on the highways that looked similar to the one below. Oh how I wish I had one of those!

 

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Definitely remember both signs. I recall the brown sign at the intersection of 537 and 571, directly across from the Sunoco. The shoulder lane sign, however, was much simpler and did not actually say GA. It was simply, "Park Traffic Okay to Use Shoulder Lane."

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You can see one of the brown Great Adventure signs in this enlargement. The photo was taken from the Route 537 overpass (Great Adventure's entrance way) looking towards Freehold. The sign points to what was then the park entrance off of Route 537 East. That exit is now home to Hurricane Harbor's wave pool and the entrance has since been moved prior to the overpass while traveling east.

 

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There's still one in Point Pleasant on Bridge Avenue in front of a bank near Route 88. I have been so tempted to steal it and it's really faded but it is still there (or was last year when I was last there). If I was young I probably would steal it, but at my age if I got caught it would be REALLY embarrassing...

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Gacoaster, I am in point pleasant...where is this sign, land mark it for me ? I prob drove past it a million times (if it's still there) but never noticed. I know you said on bridge ave near a bank? I'm trying to think of where this is.

Edited by fetish911
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  • 1 month later...

We included one of the aerial photos of the Marshall Tucker Band concert in the shows video montage in the Great Adventure History Museum. That picture never fails to get the response of "oh my God" from people watching it. If you have the chance to stop by the Museum be sure to check out the video. Our very own jdc12192 put it together for us for the event. He did a great job!

 

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