The Eldorado will be roaring again next summer — as long as mechanics can get the water out of the bumper car’s gas tanks!
Gordon Lee, the new owner of the beloved Auto Skooter and Arcade reached an 11th-hour arrangement with Thor Equities to hold onto the Surf Avenue property for one more season, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for the People’s Playground staple.
“We had a great two-day event, then all of a sudden we got hit with Hurricane Sandy,” said Lee, who added that the storm surge submerged all of the Eldorado amusements that have thrilled beach-goers since 1972. “I don’t have to tell you how damaging salt water is to electronics.”
Thor Equities owner Joe Sitt bought the Eldorado property from owner Sheila Fitlin in March, sparking concerns that this past summer would be the last time one could — as the sign says above the door — “Bump your ass off.”
A lease agreement was finally reached, but Hurricane Sandy rained on any celebration, explained Lee, who said that the storm destroyed many of his classic arcade games and the wooden skeeball cabinets swelled up and fell apart. The bumper cars and the arcade’s famous sound system was also seriously damaged, he said.
“Right now, what I’m in the middle of is preserving as much property as I can,” said Lee, who doesn’t have flood insurance and is waiting to get an assessor into the building to survey the damage.
But he already knows the cost will be high: a new bumper car runs $5,000, and even the parts for one could easily more than $1,000 — and that’s without paying for shipping and customs fees to bring the items from the Italian bumper car manufacturer he deals with.
It may be more than he can afford, Lee said.
“I’m going to try my hardest to bring it back, but there’s a lot more homework that has to be done before I can say if we’ll be able to,” said Lee. “Everything can be repaired, but at what cost?”Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderma