Dark In The Park


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This section of our site is devoted to emails about the Haunted Mansion or our site.  If you have any intriguing stories about the mansion, please email them to us so we can include them here.



10/28/06 Cool site! Here is an entry for you...

I thought of the Long Branch Haunted Mansion last night. I had taken my 7 year old son to a local haunted trail near Seattle where I live.

While in line I was telling him all about the Haunted Mansion, the boardwalk, and all the cool stuff there. I told him it wasn’t there any more after he asked if we could go.

When he asked why, I told him the story of when I was 17 and JUST got my driver’s license. I drove to Deal to pick up my girl friend and we drove on a date to the Haunted Mansion.

I will refrain from the details of the date of course, but I will never forget the next morning when I heard it BURNT DOWN!!!

Yes, I was amongst the last to walk through it.

So, in a way, the mansion is STILL haunting me... :)


Jon Doranz, Pompano Beach, FL

THANK YOU FOR THIS SITE! My whole childhood was just revived!!!! I went nuts when I found this link. I laughed, and I cried remembering all the good times I had there with my Dad. I cannot wait to share this site with my entire New Jersey family, especially my dad.

My grandparents lived in Monmouth Beach, and my Dad and I went to the Long Branch Pier/Boardwalk every summer from the 70s to the 80s. So many stories I played the Sea Wolf video game for the first time at the arcade, ski ball, and those "Parachute" games where it was tons of coins and you hoped that it pushed all the coins off for the big prize, the air gun gallery (where I remember shooting bear that growled) and of course the legendary Haunted Mansion. I will never forget the bumper boats and the mini golf my dad and I played, which you so thoughtfully captured in the photos, brochures and the videos.

One story I hold close to my heart as a child: My dad and I walk up to the pizza place to get a slice or two (I recall it to be a slice of Sicilian which was heavy for a little kid). The guy at the counter hands it to me and says be careful... Not two seconds later I drop it on the ground, and I was in tears. The guy at the counter was a big guy, kind of intimidating looking to a kid of my size... He saw how upset I was, and he gave me another slice at no charge! He brought a smile to my face and I remember his smile. I remember the taste of pizza perfection, and getting it all over my face and clothes. The smell of the salt air... Take me back! I saw a small photo of the pizza place in a brochure on your site and I smiled as I brushed away the tears.

It breaks my heart to know that the boardwalk arcade/pier is gone as we knew it, but glad to see a new generation is around the corner! I will most likely venture up there when I have kids someday and share the stories.

Thank you again for the memories!


Mary Palm

Just changed my email for those that are still getting in touch with me to mary@tfbyrne.com or www.marypalmrealtor.com to see what I have been up to since we last hung on the good old boardwalk. Times have changed & for any that haven't been back it is well worth taking a trip. Long Branch has changed so much some say for the better some say the old way was the way to go. Love the memories & always looking to make more in LB!!


Wow I was amazed to see this website, it took me back so many years ago.  I talk about the boardwalk a lot these day because where I live now there is none, never have been, and I tell the local folks how much I would look forward to summer because I knew I would be hitting the boards, between Long Branch & Asbury Park.  But for the Long Branch pier, I'll never forget the Haunted Mansion.  It scared the daylights out of me..LOL.  I had to keep going in every time I was there.  It was a sad moment when I heard it & the pier burned but all of us who have ever visited Long Branch will have our memories. I was born in Long Branch and raised in Oceanport.  My parents owned an Italian Restaurant in Asbury Park.  Man I could tell you some stories.  If anyone reads this and knows any investors please send them my way.  Our town here on the coast of North Carolina really needs a boardwalk.

Debbie (Wasson) Tantarelli

Hey guys....this is Debbie Wasson Tantarelli here. I just wanted to give all of you my "NEW" email address in case someone wants to reminisce about the good ole' Haunted Mansion Days or whatever is going on in your life now. My new email address is antndebtant@hotmail.com. Please email me if you remember me.

Mary Murtagh

Hi my name is Little Mary Murtagh (That was my name down at the boards between the ages of 77-83. I spent countless hours at jobs on the boardwalk.  Bob's Balloon Bust 1st, then THE FUNNEL CAKE FACTORY!!I  I opened & closed & managed kids.  I was a KID back then but I don't think anyone told me!  I opened at 6:30 (what was I thinkin?)  What was Vito thinking?  The trust & faith that man had to give me a key & money power.  I wasn't even 16.  Stuffing cannolies & making espresso & cappuccino coffees, hiring people, firing people!!  Shopping at San tropez or takin a break at wizard world.  Getting many many Italian ices at FALVO'S OMG..when were we NOT at the boardwalk!!! Drooling over Jerry..or Nono & the Viallanos!!! Jimmy Johnson doing back flips off the bars on the boardwalk,,beach access...Someone slipping & falling off the high dive at chelsea pool (probably didn't even think to sue back then).  Pistol Pete's , Crammers.  Going thru the tunnel!!!I  Use to hang with Mr Cicolese's son Lewis both on & under the boardwalk back in the good old days.. lol... when holding hands meant you were dating!!..Jerrylyn & god what was her name so many people from up north (manny) geeze.  The names this site has brought back to my mind, I am a teenager again if only for a few minutes  Mike, Vinny, Jerry, Camille Sullivan, Alice Zoppi, Carmen Cundiff, Janice Biesser, Donna Woods, Karen Murtagh, Anthony Falvo, Gloria Falvo, Lisa.  I am 42 now, married and now known as Mary Palm.  I am a real estate agent in Bricktown. and the mother of 2 grown daughters soon to be a grandma in 3 weeks.  This site made me feel soooo young again.  I Graduated the class of 1982 LBHS!  When we weren't working at the boardwalk or going to school we were getting dolled up to GO to the boardwalk to hang out!! Back to the MANSION. I was in it & remember all the sites & sounds & rats at your calf grrr yuk!!!  Lizzy Boarden had an ax, gave her mother yuk...yuk..yuk wacks & waks.  It's so true no matter how many times I went thru, it scared the shit out of me EVERY TIME... This site brought back a flood of old names, faces memories running thru my mind. I still have a painting of a unicorn made by an unknown artist I think BASS a painter that used a paint brush (that paints the outside of a house) to paint this delicate looking unicorn scene. Anyone know what happened to him or have any of his paintings also?.  Email me anytime mpalm10069@aol.com any one that remembers me & this time period!! I would love to reminisce. Mary Murtagh from Dunbar Avenue!!


The Haunted Mansion, Ah yes, great memories.  Summer of 79 at the young age of 16. That's right, 16 years old. I had to fake my birth-certificate just to get the job. But once I got in what a great time I had.

Leanne you were the best. Dusty, Jane L., Leslie Z. you haven't been forgotten. I still have a lot of Love in my heart for the great times we had.

Everyone was the tops. I myself was more then a bit immature, but then again I was only 16 and never experienced this much fun before.

When the Pier burned down I remember being able to see the flames for miles. I stood on the boardwalk in West End and just cried.  A lot of memories just burned down right in front of my eyes. I felt bad for everyone who were still carrying on the insane Mansion traditions.

Pier Pub was the site of many fun days and nights with the gang. I remember the Mansion Party we had there, ( Hey Dusty, Thanks for The Kiss ) Love your little brother.

All in all, it's great just to have these memories. Thanks for having this Website.  Long Branch has a big hole in that area now that can never be filled with anything as great as what was there.

Lot's of Love to the Summer of 79 and it's Cast.



Fond memories of the Haunted Mansion! The best and most scariest for me was, when you first came into the Mansion...it was pitch black and you couldn't even see your hand in front of you.

Someone or something in the corner called me by name...when the lights started to flash...I could see a figure with a knife coming toward me...calling me by my name and stating, "I am going to kill you..."

Turns out it was a friend from school working there...I knew that in the back of my mind...but let me tell you...to this day I remember it sending chills down my spine!  The friend was Jimmy Hornung from Oceanport. I have no idea where he is today and probably haven't seen him since that night at the Haunted Mansion.  Would love to know what he's doing.



My name is Valerie, and I grew up on that pier. My aunt worked at the haunted mansion, Mary Fornino. I can remember countless hours in the mansion and at Kid's World and the infamous water slide!  When the pier caught on fire it broke my heart. My father fought that fire and it was a total loss as we all know. I miss those days. I notice a quote from a person named Debbie who stated that Mary was a foster child.  You couldn't have been more wrong. She is from a family of 5 siblings and she is also a twin. Definitely not a foster kid although I am sure she wishes she was!  To all of you who grew up in Long Branch or Sea Bright and the surrounding towns, that pier was a huge part of all of our lives.  I was too young to work on the pier but it was nice to have family working on it. I remember on an Easter Sunday my mother, Edie Fornino, took my brother (Eddie Wells) to the mansion.  We always got the EXTRA fright when we went.  Anyway, when you walked in if you all remember the fireplace that the witch would come out from, well she stepped on my brother's shoe knocking it off and well he socked her one!  I will never forget it and he also told her to back off!  Too funny. Anyway, good memories.  I am glad my husband found this site, very good memories. Thanks for them!

John Fenner

My name is John, I am 30 years old. Back when I was a kid living in Keansburg, I'd go to Monmouth Park with my parents every Monday in the summer, them to bet on the races, me to watch the horses run around. After we got done there, we'd go to the Long Branch pier and have a good time. I've been inside the Haunted Mansion a few times. I also loved the rides there, especially going in that thing where you just jumped around nonstop. We continued going there after the changeover to Kids' World. In fact, the last time we went there, I was 11 years old in 1987, just one day before the fire. When the fire broke out, it broke my heart. It's too bad the catastrophe happened, because people my age would've had something to take their kids to today. They'd get to enjoy what we did, heck, who knows, the pier may have actually been expanded and even more amusements may have been added. We'll never know, however. The Long Branch Amusement Pier was miles ahead of the Keansburg Boardwalk. My memories of the pier will live on forever.
7/5/06 I am 41 years old. And believe it or not I just found out about the long branch fire that destroyed the pier. I grew up in Bloomfield New Jersey, and every summer for 18 years, I spent the summers in long branch with my grandmother, I have the fondest memories of the board walk. I moved away in 1984, so I did not know about the fire. I felt such and empty feeling knowing the one place I have the best memories does not exist anymore. My sister and I would go to Chelsey pool during the day, then at night we would go to the boardwalk with my grandmother. Once the music from the haunted mansion started to play, you knew it was open, I loved that music, as scary as it was, that is what made the boardwalk so great, I only went in the mansion one time, if you want to call it going in. I got so scared I could not finish, and one of the monsters had to take us out through a side door. In which some of the staff were having their lunch outside, and enjoyed teasing us about not being able to make it through. We may not have the boardwalk anymore, but we will always have our memories.


Marylyn Guzman

I am 31 years old and I remember Kids World and the ever frightening Haunted Mansion just as if it was yesterday. At the mere age of 7 or so, I ventured into that creepy place only to scream my way immediately out. Of course every one else went inside but I was content seeing their reactions when they came out. My family and I went every single week to both parts and tears formed in my eyes when I came across your website. You have no idea what role this establishment played in my life. Countless memories, so many laughs and a part of my childhood that I will never forget. I was too young to understand the fire but I definitely felt the impact of not having a place to go every week with my family. I cried often because I couldn't understand why it just couldn't be rebuilt. Foolish me. I remember meeting Miss Molly there and I still have the pictures from that day. I was sooooo happy. She was my hero and having her say my name threw the "Magic Mirror" made that experience just that much better.

Needless to say, its been over 20 years and I am still very heartbroken over the loss of such a wonderful place. I just hope that the children of this generation have a place that they can consider their second home just as I did so long ago.

John Nocera


I moved away from NJ in 1979, and now live in Puyallup, WA. I have countless memories of the pier. My whole family would fish there, sometimes all night long........in the dead of winter. It was great. When I got old enough to drive my buddy and I would drive down from Elizabeth and play arcade games, eat and of course, fish. The Long Branch pier was more than just a place it is part of my youth. Those were very different times. It was safe, good wholesome fun and people were helpful and friendly. Looking at your website almost brought me to tears remembering the good ole days. I guess I will always hold those memories near to my heart.
Tom Marinelli


My name is Tom Marinelli, Hey Jimmy (tommym79@hotmail.com). What he said is true! I first worked on the boardwalk in 1973, yea sure I was old enough, lol. And even before that lived there playing skee ball, pinball etc, I can still beat any crane game!. Worked the candy wheel, drown the clown, and the plate's that you could never get the coins to just quite stop on. Went to Wizards world more then school. Working in the Haunted Mansion was a blast, we took great pride in torturing the Bennies that came down. Then went and had more then a few at the pier pub. Well sometimes before we went to the Mansion. Hours were long when you had make up, thanks Elaine, hope this finds you all well, Lil G., Anne and all the rest. I could go on and on, but although that time will never return, I lived it! Great site and keep it going!!!


I am 55 & moved away from NJ in 1973. But I have lots of memories to share! My dad used to work for Leon Minogue in the 1940's, as one of the white-capped men who roamed around the penny arcade, with a metal change-making thing on his belt. Dad was also a lifeguard at Chelsea pool, which is how he met my mom, who was from Newark. It seems the entire Italian population of Newark emigrated to Long Branch every summer! Remember the tunnel to the beach? Remember the smell of the wooden changing lockers? And the locker keys with an elastic to put around your wrist or ankle? Fresh seawater was pumped into the pool every day. Remember "last licks" on Labor Day weekend? Leon was a good friend to my dad. In the early 60's Leon would give my sister and I rolls of nickels, dimes & quarters to play for free all day in his arcade!! It was a kid's dream come true!! The pinball machines cost 5 cents for 5 balls back then--my favorite machine was "Miss Annabelle"...I now have her (one that I fully restored myself) in my basement! One time, Leon took us into a loft where he stored the prizes for the machines & gave my sister and I one of each thing! He was a saintly, generous man. He had the BEST prizes! The merry-go-round was world class!! What ever happened to it? Remember saving your tickets to cash in at the end of the summer for a really BIG prize? My relative, Lena Fabiano, owned a bar/restaurant that opened both onto the pool & onto the street--french fries--yum! The Four Seasons played there before they became famous! Then later, maybe a hotdog at Max's or Danny Mahr's. Fishing on the pier with my dad brings back so many good memories! We stayed at Costabule's rooming house or Victoria Gardens (next to the pool). In the basement at Costabule's there was a long counter, with a row of cooking stoves & refrigerators, for all the Italian women to make their great dishes. Franks Sinatra had stayed there before he became famous. One night we stayed at the "Paddock" motel--what a dump! The last time I was in Long Branch was 1999. I was really depressed to see what had happened to my beloved landmarks. I felt like an archeologist in the ruins of a once great city. Asbury was even worse--looked like a bombed-out war zone. But the memories of those summers will live forever in my heart!
Mary (McMurray) Fluherty


Someone just sent me this website! What memories it brings back! I was Mary McMurray, Annie used to call me “Scary Mary,” or “Mary Mc.” I was sooo fond of her! Punkface always looked out for us. I worked there starting in ’83 until after it turned into Kid’s World, I guess ’86. I remember Brenda, Heidi, Debbie, Jon, Larry, Dave B.(great parties!), Kat, Jim MacDonald, Sean/Pat Smith, Brett, Donnie Day, Mark McAvoy, on and on! I lied about my age when I got the job. I would spend the spring and fall weekend openings hanging out in the Brighton Bar, going to parties at “The House,” (remember the coffin table?) then getting into my Catholic school uniform on Monday morning and going to Red Bank Catholic! I remember Punk bringing me down to the Pier Pub in full makeup on a leash! I dribbled pea soup out of my mouth and smeared it all over the front door! I loved being at the front door. But it could be REALLY hot! Ugh! Some heat wave mornings you’d see that was your station and you KNEW Lil was punishing you for something! I still tell people that the HM was the funnest job I ever had. I remember going to Long Branch soon after the pier burned, running into Dave, who was a security guard down there. Took me down as far as it was safe to go. There was serious grieving after the fire. I saw Kat and Larry, both in 1994. I can’t believe how much time has gone by.

I credit the Haunted Mansion for giving me a place to go the summers my mom was sick and later died. I still have my “Secret Syde” album.

I ended up becoming a drug/alcohol counselor for adolescents in Fairfax County, VA, where I met and married Mike who is a Lt. Col. in the Air Force. We live in Hampton Roads and we are moving to Shaw AFB in SC this summer when Mike gets his squadron command.

A shout out to Liver, I hope you are doing well.

Anthony Margiotta,  Long Island, NY


I remember my dad promising he'll take me and my friends to the Haunted Mansion in Long Branch New Jersey for my birthday which happened to fall on the Gas Shortage in the 70's. My dad didn't let me down he got up at 4 in the morning to wait on line for 3.5 hours to fill our station wagon up to take us from Bklyn, NY to Long Branch N.J. it was by far the coolest scariest place on earth. Your commercials was so true to what you saw when you went in. It took us about 45 minutes to escape.
Jimmy Liu JR


My name is Jimmy Liu JR. I ran the cafe bar and Jimmy's Jetty. I can still hear the haunted mansions music that was on a loop. I miss the old boardwalk! As you may know, My family owned the South end of the boardwalk. Unfortunately the city of Long Branch robbed Our family run business under the disguise of eminent domain. It saddens and confuses me to understand how the city of Long Branch can take property in the name of emanate domain and sell it to the applied group so they can make millions! Anyway Big Al was a good friend of mine and he had the best pizza and shrimp cocktail in the state! I hired his services to incorporate his spot light in the sky business to hype many special events. that the Cafe Bar was producing at the time. God bless and cherish all the good times! Unfortunately I am currently in litigation with the city of Long Branch to receive just compensation! But the fact of the matter is They can never put a price on the blood, sweat and dedication that we put in to every aspect of our unconditional loyalty to the community of Long Branch Only to be chewed up and spit out! Corruption, conflict of interest and back door politics will be the demise of our constitutional rights as Americans Respectfully J.R. LIU


You asked for any memories of the Haunted Mansion....and I went back to being 14 in 1978 again! I typically stay away from scary stuff but that night all my friends were going in and I didn't want to wait outside alone so I joined them. It was a truly horrific experience but it got worse when I got separated from my friends and one of the ghouls started following me around with her arms over her head like the monsters in Scooby Doo calling out my name! Caaaaaaathyyyyyyyyy she said over and over and I thought, "oh my gosh, how could she POSSIBLY know my name???" Well then she started saying my last name as well and I thought this is it, I'm gonna die right here! My last name was 3 syllables long so for her to continually repeat Caaaaaaathyyyyyy ************************ in that ghoulish voice was maddening! I started to cry! I later found out that this ghoulish girl was my little sister's friend's older sister who worked there and happened to know my name. It was a night I'll NEVER forget! P.S. I've never been in a haunted mansion since then!






© 2003 Dark in the Park.  This site was created by Bill and Seph Cherkasky.