NBC10Philadelphia.com - Cydney Long
Nearly 200 people gathered in Atlantic City today to celebrate the reopening of the boardwalk two weeks after Hurricane Sandy.
It was a day of hope and celebration for Atlantic City on Sunday. Two weeks since Hurricane Sandy struck the city, residents celebrated the reopening of the AC Boardwalk.
A free event to celebrate the boardwalk took place from noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday. The walk began at the Atlantic Club Hotel and Casino and ended at Revel Casino. Elvis and Michael Jackson impersonators were joined by a crowd of nearly 200 as they strutted down a mile-long stretch of the boardwalk.
"Atlantic City is here, it's whole it's ready and begging for you to come back," said Liz Cartmell of the Atlantic City Alliance.
"This is to promote Atlantic City," said Mike Turon, the Tropicana Engineering Director. "It's all of our livelihoods. I'm third generation, relying on Atlantic City tourism."
Hundreds of hospitality employees are among those who suffered severe losses during Sandy.
"These are people who if they're not scheduled, they don't make money," said Cartmell. "They rely on tips and they rely on their hours."
At nearby Bader Field, those affected by Sandy lined up by the hundreds. Help from the Red Cross included everything from toothpaste and shaving items to a cleaning kit, shovels brooms and baby supplies.
"We've hear their story a million times," said Don Barker of the American Red Cross. "A lot of times these are the first times that the people have gotten to tell their stories to someone. That is huge."
Volunteers, some as far away as Mexico and Canada, came by the hundreds to help victims of Sandy.
"This is the largest I've ever seen and the largest many of us have ever heard of the number of people affected and the need that is out there," said Robbin Stephens of the Red Cross of British Columbia.
Latisha Williams lost two weeks of work and still must disinfect her home from the flood. For her siblings and children, including a newborn daughter, this means the world.
"I'm kind of overwhelmed, I'm real happy," said Williams. "I don't want to tear up or anything. But it's really a good thing to see all this big help."
Atlantic City Alliance tells NBC10 that in the days after the casinos reopened, occupancy lingered at 10%. With the warm weather this weekend however, occupancy is now closer to 50%.