Love the Circus Drive-in? Here’s how you can ‘heartbomb’ iconic landmark
WALL — A former township resident who is a fan of the Circus Drive-In has started a campaign to allow everyone to show their love for the recently closed iconic restaurant.
Brittany Lavelle Tulla, an architectural historian who owns BVL Historic Preservation Research based in Charleston, South Carolina, is asking supporters to "heartbomb" the restaurant on Route 35 by taping paper hearts to the building and the sign before Valentine's Day.
Tulla hopes the show of support will help keep the iconic restaurant from being torn down by a developer.
"I help people understand the stories of old buildings that mean a lot to their communities," Tulla said, calling it part of national campaign campaign started in Buffalo, New York, a few years ago by young people involved in the historic preservation field.
"It's a way to shower buildings with literal paper hearts. All those buildings that are abandoned and kind of fall into your subconscious when you drive down the street. But when you see these paper hearts on the building and you start to realize 'Oh, wait a minute! This building actually is important to the community,'" Tulla said.
Tulla stressed that people leaving a paper heart should use tape that will not damage the building. She encourages people to take a picture with a heart in front of the Circus and post it on social media.
"Whoever is going to buy that property will see how much the community loves it," Tulla said.
The Circus Drive-In opened in 1956 and became a required stop by many locals and visitors to the Jersey Shore. A for-sale sign went up in November to the surprise of many, including Samantha Kelly, a township resident and manager at the restaurant. She posted news of the sale on Facebook on a page called Save the Circus Drive In.
Harold Wien Real Estate senior vice president Gerald Norkus in late January told New Jersey 101.5 that a redevelopment deal is in progress for the the 1.6 acre property. The sale would not include keeping the eatery in business.
“Economically it’s not feasible. Factor in the value of the property and then you look at running a seasonal restaurant, the numbers just don’t work,” Norkus said.
The property remains listed on the Harold Wien website.
"I went to Wall High School, grew up in Wall and I have a lot of friends that worked at the Circus Drive-In, I've been to the Circus Drive-In and as an architectural historian I know how cool the Circus Drive-In is not just for Wall but from a national architectural stand point," Tulla said. "That whole mid-century architecture and this kind of do-wop era is really portrayed in the Circus. Whether people realize it or not it's a significant historical artifact."
Kelly said a proclamation issued by Wall Township in 1995 doesn't have much official meaning. "It doesn't have substance. It's more or less a certificate acknowledging that it serves a nostalgic purpose in Wall Township."
Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand said there's been a lot of "discussion and review about what the town can and cannot do, but as of right now I am unaware of any action the town is taking."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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