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Atlantic City Diving Horse Act Revival Shut Down

Atlantic City Diving Horse Act Revival Shut Down
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The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey was an iconic vacation destination for many years from late 19th century through mid 20th century.  It is part of a rich history of the state.  From the Miss America Pageant hopefuls parading on the boardwalk to the diving horses, it seems everyone knew where The Steel Pier could be found.

A press release from the Steel Pier Associates announced in early February a decision to bring back the diving horse act to the beach resort town. Their goal was to do this by Memorial Day, the traditional ushering in of the summer season. The revitalization project will include a roller coaster and other rides, a nightclub, a museum, a foodcourt and arcade section and a 2,000 seat ballroom.  And yes, the diving horse attraction.

What is entertaining about watching an animal put in harm’s way?  Watch the video of an historic Steel Pier horse dive and see what you think.

The Plan
The Catanoso brothers, Anthony and William, owners of Steel Pier Associates say they want to bring non-gaming family attractions to Atlantic City.  Certainly that is a reasonable goal to a place where gambling — and all the squander that comes with it — is pretty much the only game in town. But watching a horse climb 40 feet and be forced to dive into a pool 12 feet deep?  I don’t get it.

The Catanoso brothers claim they investigated the history of diving horses in Atlantic City and found no horse was ever injured in a dive.  They state that is the reason they decided to bring back the act to the Steel Pier.  Yet an article in Christian Cowgirl says:

“There is one known case of a diving horse dying in action. Lightning, Sonora’s beloved diving horse, was practice-diving riderless at a tower on a pier. The show people wanted to see if the show could be done successfully into the ocean. Lightning jumped beautifully, then became confused and swam out toward sea. She became tired gave up, and went under. Lifeguards caught up to her and buoyed her up. She was brought back to shore, but couldn’t be resuscitated.”

As a New Jersey-born Baby Boomer I have vivid memories of the Atlantic City boardwalk and all the family fun we had there in the summers long before casinos arrived in town.  I recall as a six year old asking my dad why the horses were diving into a little pool; won’t they get hurt?  “That’s to entertain us,” he would explain, which left me with a quizzical frown on my face.

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Photo credit: via flickr, Demetrios Lyras

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224 comments

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9:55AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

I meant yes,Im totally against animal cruelty.

9:06AM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Thanks.

9:04AM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

9:09AM PDT on May 20, 2012

Thankful that this stupid idea did not happen. It is NOT entertaining to watch any animal be put in harm's way. In my opinion, animals should not be used in any way that exploits them or could potentially harm them. This includes circuses, horse racing, horse gaiting, marine acts (ie jumping whales and dolphins), dancing bears (internationally done), dogfighting, etc.

9:09AM PDT on May 20, 2012

Thankful that this stupid idea did not happen. It is NOT entertaining to watch any animal be put in harm's way. In my opinion, animals should not be used in any way that exploits them or could potentially harm them. This includes circuses, horse racing, horse gaiting, marine acts (ie jumping whales and dolphins), dancing bears (internationally done), dogfighting, etc.

5:08AM PDT on May 20, 2012

I voted no, not because I would ever go to a show featuring cruelty to animals, but because I wouldn't go to the "Steel Pier" for anything, period ! The revitalization of the "Steel Pier" is an attempt to make a fortune for a few by bilking the "rubes" . Nice try, piggies !

8:14AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

happy it was stopped with public pressure this proves what united public can do! but I'd never visit such place ever ..old or new Steel Pier because i don't believe that place is run /owned by good people to allow and inflict such horror on poor innocent horses in the first place

5:02PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

Utterly absurd and frightening for the horses. Glad it was stopped.

8:26AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

It is good that this stupidness is over !!
Thank you !

8:25AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

How stupid people can be !
Who creates something stupid and FOR WHAT ?
I cannot understand.
Thank you !

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