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Circus Drive-In demolished in Wall Township

The iconic Circus Drive-In on Route 35 in Wall Township is demolished

Thomas P. Costello and Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press

WALL – The clown is gone.

After 67 years, the iconic smiling clown that welcomed motorists to the Circus Drive-In restaurant was removed by crews from the Rex Sign Company on Friday. The sign has been donated by developer Circus Partners LLC to the township, which will store it at nearby Camp Evans until a permanent home can be found. 

“There’s plenty of places where people would think it’s a cool sign. But where is the appropriate place?” Wall Township Administrator Jeffrey Bertrand said. “Where is the place where people say, ‘It’s cool they have that there’?” 

Workers spent much of the last few days removing neon from the sign, leaving just the painted, wooden clown that had either delighted motorists or haunted their nightmares, depending on their feelings about two-story clowns smiling at them. 

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The clown sign is the last vestige of the Circus Drive-In, a Jersey Shore landmark that operated along Route 35 for more than 60 years. 

The no-frills restaurant — where waiters delivered burgers, fries and crab cakes to guests’ cars in the parking lot — grew popular as a summertime hangout in the 1960s, and the tradition was passed down for generations.

But the business had trouble staying afloat after owner Richard Friedel and his family sold it in 2004. 

In 2016, as more big box retailers began opening nearby, rumors circulated that the Circus Drive-In could be the next plot slated for redevelopment.

Despite a petition by former employees and customers, the Circus Drive-In was demolished in May 2018.

The Wall Planning Board approved plans for the site’s redevelopment in December 2019, greenlighting Circus Partners LLC to construct a 12,000-square-foot building with one to seven units on the 1.6-acre property.

The center also will have it own free-standing sign and a new parking lot with 80 spaces.

Mike Davis has spent the last decade covering New Jersey local news, marijuana legalization, transportation and basically whatever else is going on at any given moment. Contact him at [email protected] or @byMikeDavis on Twitter.

Source: Asbury Park

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