Looking Back: Donovan’s Sandy Demise

By Elaine Van Develde

Seven years ago it began. And when Superstorm Sandy stopped its swirling on the sliver of peninsula that is Sea Bright, it plopped the iconic Donovan’s Reef down in bits and pieces.

People of the Rumson-Fair Haven area mourned the loss to a relentless, remorseless Sandy. And when they were allowed to travel over the bridge into Sea Bright, many diehard loyalists of the tiki hut by the sea could be found just sitting and staring at what once was. They walked the sea wall looking for souvenir scraps reminiscent of their glory days at Donovan’s. They talked. They even cried.

Out-of-towners sized up the wreckage in unknowing disbelief, having no clue how many milestone treasures had seeped into each nook and cranny of what suddenly looked like a heap of splintered shed stream next to Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz. The wicked witch was Sandy and she wasn’t dead. Donovan’s was.

But, in those days seven years ago, a promise of rebirth was immediately made in the wreckage. Now, Donovan’s is back. It’s bigger. It’s built to withstand any storm.

Still, area people, mostly those from the Rumson-Fair Haven area for which Donovan’s became a rite of passage in their post-RFH days, still see that small tiki bar, and modest building. And they won’t forget what Sandy did to that modest gathering place at the beach. Remember?

Here’s what the demise of the popular spot looked like in 2012, just after the storm …

Were you there? Your favorite old Donovan’s memory?

Photos/Elaine Van Develde

Donovan’s Reef after Sandy
Photo/Elaine Van Develde
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Scoping out the wreckage at Donovan’s sea wall after Sandy
Photo/Elaine Van Develde