Crews continue to advance the expansion of a Jersey Shore boardwalk amusement pier that was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

The expansion of Casino Pier in Seaside Heights began last month. A photo and video by Kevin Doherty of Remote Control Aerial Productions shows the continued northward advance of pilings between the boardwalk and ocean.

The project is the result of a controversial land swap between the Casino Pier operator and Seaside Heights, resulting in shifting ownership of a 1.36-acre beach parcel from the borough to the pier.

In exchange, Seaside Heights received a parking lot near the boardwalk to potentially house a beloved historic carousel for preservation.

Beach access advocates lambasted the plan, saying it diminished the public's ability to access the beach, while proponents argued its necessity to spur tourism.

Pier owners sought the beach expansion since extending the pier eastward over the ocean -- where the Star Jet roller coaster fell into the water and became an international symbol of the superstorm -- is too expensive and unrealistic.

Once completed, the pier will host a variety of new rides. The land once occupied by Funtown Pier, located to the south in both Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, remains undeveloped after suffering extensiv damage from Sandy and then fully destroyed in the September 2013 boardwalk fire.

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Jersey Shore Amusement Pier Expansion Advances

Crews continue to advance the expansion of a Jersey Shore boardwalk amusement pier that was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The expansion of...

What a beautiful day for the Four Annual Hot Dog eating contest at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights!

Men, women and children preregistered for the big event, hosted by Dennis and Judi. After they checked in, they received their own T-shirts … and gathered around a large table, waiting for their hot dogs to come out.

They had just 10 minutes to chow down as many as they could, with their family and friend watching. Puking … unfortunately for at least one contestant … was a disqualification.

The competition started, as family and friends cheered in the background. Some were taking the competition seriously — and devouring the hot dogs one after the other at a frightening pace. Others were taking their grand old time.

After 10 minutes of consuming hot dogs there were two big winners. For the children, the winner was a young man by the name of Christian who successfully ate six hot dogs.

For the adults, the winner was a Jason from Manchester — known to the crowd (and, we assume, his kids) as “Daddy. He successfully ate 12 hot dogs!

He’s now taking three other friends into the city to see The Blue Man group.

Whoa! See Hot-dog Eating Contest in Seaside heights at Super-speed!

What a beautiful day for the Four Annual Hot Dog eating contest at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights! Men, women and children preregistered for the...

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — More than 200 relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty met at Breakwater Beach Waterpark in Seaside Heights Tuesday to enjoy a day of hamburgers, water slides, boardwalk rides and arcade games. Everything was offered to the families for free. It’s their 9th year meeting.

If anyone knows what the families of the slain Dallas Police officers may be going through right now, it’s a group like this one.

"My husband was actually trying to apprehend a criminal, and the criminal ended up shooting him and killing him with a shotgun,” said Chatrian Shields. Her youngest was 4-months-old the day her husband died. Today, she has a 20-year-old in college, a 17-year-old in high school and her infant son is now 10-years-old.

"My brother was apprehending a criminal and a drunk driver came around the curve and hit him,” said a woman sitting across from her, Dolly Mann-Wells. Tennessee Highway Patrolman John Wells was killed in 2001.

These families offer each other continued support and friendship.

"I’m raising children by myself. If there is something I’m going through in my life, I know I can turn to one of my fellow survivors. Like my fellow surviving spouse here Chatrian. And I know she’s been there, done that,” said Lisa Presler, who has been raising her two daughters since her husband’s death while on duty in 2007. She is also the President of Garden State C.O.P.S., which stands for Concerns of Police Survivors.

These survivors have heavy hearts and prayers for the families of the fallen Dallas Police officers. But they also have hope.

“It's kind of hard to move beyond it, but you just learn to grow with that pain instead of letting that pain succumb you,” said Shields, “I totally understand their feelings right now.”

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Families of fallen officers come together for day of fun in Seaside Heights

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — More than 200 relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty met at Breakwater Beach Waterpark in Seaside Heights...

Families of Fallen Officers Make Memories at NJ Waterpark

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (WPVI) — Families who’ve suffered heartbreaking loss came together Tuesday to make positive new memories. Loved...

Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights, New Jersey recently opened their newest thrill ride- the Skycoaster®.

Perched at the Northeast corner of the pier, up to three guests per flight are winched to the top of the 100 foot launch tower before pulling the ripcord. They then soar- first over the bustling midway below and then out over the vast Atlantic Ocean with surfers (and sometimes dolphins) frolicking directly beneath them!

The park has long been a landmark along the Jersey Shore.  Continuing in their amazing efforts to rebuild following the devastation brought about by Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, the pier is in the midst of a massive expansion of which the 2015 phase includes an exhilarating 109 foot Single Skycoaster®.

“We are really excited to have the Skycoaster® as part of Casino Pier's rebuilding process with our focus being on rebuilding family memories,” said the pier’s Operations ManagerDebbie Karu.  “Our guests are thrilled with the experience of literally flying over the Atlantic Ocean!”

Skycoaster®, a Ride Entertainment company, is the premier extreme thrill ride in the attractions industry, providing over 30 million flights at nearly 100 sites on 6 continents since the ride’s inception in 1992.

“We are happy to be part of the expansion efforts here at Casino Pier with this amazing installation” said Skycoaster’s® Managing Director Mark Rosenzweig.  “Casino Pier has long been an important part of not only the landscape of Seaside Heights, but the entire Jersey Shore.  This installation will prove to be an icon for many decades to come and features what is without a doubt one of the most thrilling locations of any Skycoaster®.”

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Ride Entertainment’s Skycoaster® Extreme Thrill Ride Soars at Casino Pier

Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights, New Jersey recently opened their newest thrill ride- the Skycoaster®. Perched at the...

SEASIDE HEIGHTS - Anyone who has walked down the Seaside Heights boardwalk on a summer night has probably been struck by two feelings.

First, a visceral connection to the past as you move through a place that, despite fires, storms and the Disneyfication of vast swaths of the public sphere, still provides an experience that has remained remarkably similar for much of the past 100 years.

The second is the urge to approach the many wacky characters you see along the way and ask, "So, what exactly is your deal, bro?"

Through the magic of interactive video, you can satisfy both feelings without actually hitting the boards yourself.

The above is an interactive video -- one video of the stroll down the boardwalk and 18 elements that you can stop and check out as you wish. Click on and off each one, spending as much time at each stop as you like before continuing your stroll down the boardwalk.

In the process, you can take a glimpse into the boardwalk's past and chat with the present day characters - from a 3-year-old mini golf cheat to a biker dude doing bird calls - that make the place such a beloved treasure.

The vast majority of this project was filmed by myself and NJ Advance Media videographer Andre Malok on one night last month. (I went back another night only to shoot the sky ride) and while videos of the carousel and the Coin Castle wheelman were previously produced pieces, both the carousel and wheelman Dave Scott were in action the night we shot.

So for the most part, it really does represent the sights and characters present on one single night on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Nothing beats the real thing, but I'm pretty sure it's the closest you'll come to walking the boards without heading to Seaside yourself.

Special thanks to Chris Vas of Seaside Heights for the historical photos and Greenrose Media for the vintage 1980's footage.

Check out the video. And enjoy the rest of your summer.

Brian Donohue may be reached at bdonohue@njadvancemedia.com Follow him on Twitter @briandonohue. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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Seaside Heights boardwalk comes alive in interactive video

SEASIDE HEIGHTS – Anyone who has walked down the Seaside Heights boardwalk on a summer night has probably been struck by two feelings...

Dennis and Judi were broadcasting live from the legendary Casino Pier in Seaside Heights for the 3rd annual hot dog eating contest!

The competition was fierce this year with well over 20 competitors vying for the title as the top eater. We even entered not one, but TWO of our own employees in the competition to go head-to-head with each other. It was Programming vs. Promotions, as Derek from our promo department  took on our programming intern Tommy. Tommy took home the championship for programming by beating Derek 6-4.

In the main competition, Nick Murray held on to his title belt and won the competition for the second year in a row by eating 10 hot dogs! Congratulations Nick! See Nick’s winning moment in the video below.

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Dennis and Judi Broadcast from Casino Pier’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Dennis and Judi were broadcasting live from the legendary Casino Pier in Seaside Heights for the 3rd annual hot dog eating contest! The...