Deteriorating Tillie Is Running Out Of Time in Asbury Park, New Jersey
I have fond childhood memories of enjoying the amusements at Asbury Park. In fact, I was there one day when Bruce Springsteen's producer asked my friends and me to wear a microphone and go on a ride to capture our laughter and screaming on tape. They wanted to use the sounds of real Jersey kids as an accent on his Tunnel of Love album. If you listen to the beginning and the end of the title track you can hear us screaming with joy and terror. I remember Tillie looking down on us and somehow not being freaked out because that haunting yet festive symbol meant good times at the Jersey Shore. The Tillie we all remember form the The Palace is coming on it's 65th anniversary...so where is Tillie? You won't like the answer.
The iconic face of Asbury Park sits locked up in a battered, wooden shed behind a sewage treatment plant where it's been slowly deteriorating for 17 years. The salt air and elements have not been kind to our friend and if we don't do something to save him soon we won't be able to at all.
Tillie was first seen on The Palace amusement building in 1956. He was named after George C. Tilyo, who also created the iconic face for his Coney Island Amusement Park. Tillie was made famous by The Boss though photos and concert T-shirts but after trying to save the demolition of The Palace to no avail though local benefit concerts, all that was spared was the concrete cut out of Tillie back in 2004.
Much like we see #SaveBritney we need to start the #SaveTillie! Do you want Tillie out of that box? I know I do. There are places that the original Tillie would shine like a display in Convention Hall so why has he been locked away for 17 years in a storage shed not suitable for art storage? Art experts have checked in on the original multiple times since being stored in 2004 and the fresh pilings of paint chips from the art on the ground are a sure sign that the decay is mounting; at some point it will decay beyond that point of refurbishment.
I’ve noticed that multiple local artist commented on Facebook that they would donate their services to refurbish it so what are we waiting for? It would be a huge draw not only for Bruce fans but also for people just feeling nostalgic. I say it's just what we need at the Jersey Shore in a post pandemic world.
In the meantime, the new Tillie will keep us company on the side of The Wonder Bar.
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