By Elaine Henson
Boardwalk, Part VI
The summer of 1978 opened without the iconic rides that had long been an integral part of the boardwalk’s charm. Looking back, many believe this was the beginning of a decline that led to dark days for the Carolina Beach landmark.
The 1980’s boardwalk was filled with many vacant stores and properties in various states of disrepair. By the latter part of that decade there were 14 bars in a two block area which made for many problems. The town spruced up Cape Fear Boulevard with new paving, landscaping medians and built the Gazebo. In the early 1990’s they built a wooden boardwalk over the dunes, added new landscaping and lighting. The town assigned a police officer to patrol the boardwalk and enforce ordinances nightly.
By 1993 there were 16 bars, two of them, Honey Bares and Roadies, featured topless dancers.
But the most troubled establishment was the Longbranch Saloon where on April 8, 1993,a fight broke out over a pool game that ended with one man being stabbed to death. A few months later on September 22nd,a construction worker was hit with a chair at the Longbranch and died two days later.
A third death happened at the saloon that year when a man was beaten to death in a fist fight on November 20th. The bar closed by November 30th after the landlords did not renew the lease. Dark days were here indeed.
Boardwalk Part, VII