Two days before it was scheduled to be shut down, I took Henry to the St. Pete Pier so we could bid farewell to our favorite ailing tourist attraction.
Like most Bay area residents, I’ve known for years that this old landmark would soon be demolished. I also knew that once I had my son I would regret having not made memories with him on the old pier before a slick new pier one day opens in its place.
The fate of the Pier has become a hotly contested subject. I refuse to discuss the pros and cons of its replacement design, The Lens, out of sheer exhaustion. I’m tired of hearing about it. When it comes to CHANGE I’m as much a fan of progress as I am a curmudgeon, so I’ll refrain from offering what would likely be an uneducated opinion.
However, this fact remains true: the Pier’s infrastructure is falling apart, its concrete pilings, if left alone, would crumble into the bay. Studies revealed 10 years ago that the aging destination with its smattering of kitschy gift shops and empty restaurants wouldn’t survive another 20 years of saltwater erosion, never mind an impending economic blow.
When this news became public fodder in 2010, I added the Pier to my biking route. When Henry arrived in 2011, I added it to my running route. Knowing it would close before he’d be old enough to remember it, I decided to take him there often – always by foot or by bike.
Save for a handful of brooding old men drinking coffee and reading the paper, the food court inside the Pier’s dated building was usually vacant in the afternoon. Often it looked like Henry and I were the only people to order an ice cream cone for hours. In order to get the attention of the proprietor of the ice cream stand, I’d have to rap on the freezer doors and shout, “Yoo hoo! Anyone here?”
I once caught the guy asleep in a chair.
I wondered which was crumbling faster: the Pier’s infrastructure or its business.