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WEB EXCLUSIVE! Wildwoods beach rocks and rolls

Courtesy Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority

WILDWOODS, N.J. — When it comes to music, the Wildwoods is not afraid to rock the boat.

“We claim to be the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll,” said Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority, which encompasses the beachfront towns of North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest.

“We have challenged Cleveland. They coined the phrase, but the very first rock ’n’ roll hit, ‘Rock Around the Clock,’ was first performed by Bill Haley and the Comets at the Haufbrau Restaurant in Wildwood. It was the first time it was introduced to the public.

“Also, Chubby Checker introduced the twist at the Rainbow Room, and ‘Dick Clark’s American Bandstand’ started here,” said Rose.

“Every major rock star performed at the Wildwoods in the summer; it was the Las Vegas of the East.”

The Wildwoods has two major festivals to celebrate that era, a Fabulous ’50s weekend in October and a Sensational ’60s weekend in April.

This year’s ’50s festival honored the 50th anniversary of the twist and featured Checker and other artists who had hit twist songs.

The weekends feature a Friday night sock hop; a street fair with live entertainment during the day on Saturday along with hula hoop contests, memorabilia and a classic car contest; and a Saturday night concert by performers from the era in the 7,500-seat Oceanfront Arena.

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