Add one more victory for animals to the list!
Recently, we shared the news that Atlantic City Steel Pier planned to reopen the diving horse shows that were part of the pier from the 1920’s through the 70’s. Owner Anthony Catanoso planned for the events to be part of the big additions going into the location this year and to host the first shows Memorial Day Weekend.
Reading Ali’s story on Ecorazzi and seeing that building had not yet begun on the diving site, I thought there was a chance this could be stopped, but I never expected the massive response the campaign would get. In just one day after starting a petition on Change.org, over 10,000 people had signed. The word spread fast, thanks to a Facebook event page started by Bob Timmons and joined by over 900 people. Soon, celeb animal advocates including Simone Reyes, the Barbi Twins, John Bartlett, Kristin Bauer, Joanna Krupa and Our Hen House had also joined in by signing and sharing. Pulin Modi, senior organizer at Change.org said the petition was being signed so quickly that the signature count couldn’t keep up!
Steel Pier issued a statement in response to the growing number of animal activists contacting them and Catanoso, but indicated that the plans would go ahead. Tracy Chafin joined in and offered to help organize the campaign locally, since I am far from Atlantic City. She planned to speak at the Casino Board meeting next week and host peaceful demonstrations.
Today brought good news, though. Catanoso announced that Steel Pier was considering cancelling their plans to reopen the shows, and would meet tomorrow. We waited to hear if it was too good to be true, but only hours later, it was announced that the shows will not be returning to Steel Pier.
According to Press of Atlantic City, Catanoso claims that opposition from animal activists was expected, but that some of the comments were “disturbing.” “We did expect a negative reaction — we’re not surprised by this,” said Tony Catanoso, principal of Steel Pier Associates. “This time around, it’s a little more disturbing, some of the responses we’re getting as far as the way people talk … which hurts their cause, hurts their credibility.” I cannot confirm or deny that anyone made “disturbing” comments as I didn’t see any myself, and certainly didn’t ask anyone to be anything but firm but polite. I do know that thousands of people contacted Catanoso.
The Steel Pier president added, “We didn’t want the negativity to derail the positive things that are happening. Although we’ll preserve history and nostalgia in our own way, we won’t be doing it through the diving horse act.”
As Tracy said, “We’re glad to hear they’re putting the voices of those who spend tourism dollars first. If they don’t have any animal-based entertainment, I’ll be there on opening day to give them my business. And those people who signed the petition are encouraged to give them business to show their appreciation as well. We gratefully say thank you.”
PETA and the Humane Society of the United States also spoke out against the horse shows, and have now posted statements celebrating the victory.
Thank you to everyone who read our stories here on Ecorazzi and responded, and everyone who signed and shared the petition! It’s so inspiring to see thousands of individuals speak up and make a difference!