Doo Wop finds a harmonious home in the Wildwoods
WILDWOOD — Anyone vacationing in the Wildwoods has no doubt taken note of its many colorful, neon-lined buildings. There is a historical reason for that, and tourism officials say it appeals to all ages.
The theme dates back 65 years, to 1954, when Bill Haley first introduced his legendary, pioneering rock music on Pacific Avenue. Other popular artists like Chubby Checker would soon follow. To this day, the partnership of municipalities that makes up the Wildwoods can lay claim to being the "Doo Wop Capital of the World," a legacy that the Greater Wildwoods Doo Wop Preservation League works hard to protect.
Dan MacElravey, Preservation League president, said the "doo wop" style of architecture has become just as closely identified with these resort towns as Art Deco has in the South Beach section of Miami. He and his colleagues seek to maintain a certain "flavor and character" for the Wildwoods.
"The decor of the buildings, with all the neon and the color, it makes it very interesting, unlike a lot of resorts (which) are just apartment buildings and beaches," MacElravey said. "And here, we go beyond that."
MacElravey said many of the Wildwoods' most interesting buildings, such as the much-awarded Caribbean Motel in Wildwood Crest, have been retained and upgraded, and now find themselves among more than 100 doo wop structures.
You might think that confining an architectural motif to one particular decade or period in time might negatively influence the demographics of its tourists. Not so, MacElravey said; for a themed beach concert three years ago, 25,000 people showed up, spanning every generation. He sees a similar mix at the October concert celebrating many early rock acts at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
"I don't say it sarcastically — I think some of the other resorts along the coast should look at the Wildwoods, and their neon, and their signage, and the colors on the buildings, for fun," he said. "This a resort, resorts are fun."
In addition to concerts, the Wildwoods host classic car and motorcycle shows all summer long.
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