May 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM ET
For those who grew up in the surrounding areas, the Jersey Shore is a strip filled with decades of sweet summer memories. But many people across the country got their first up-close look at the boardwalk when it served as the backdrop for MTV's reality TV bash with the same name.
Last fall, Superstorm Sandy brought devastation to the famous stretch. Now the Shore is back in the spotlight again -- for a much better reason.
Friday morning the attraction officially reopened. To mark the occasion, the cast of "Jersey Shore" joined TODAY on the all-new boardwalk.
"We were here right after the storm," Vinny Guadagnino recalled. "We were doing a big relief effort with MTV. You know, we got to interview real-life people that were here during the storm, and we saw all the devastation. And I can't believe how much it's recovered since (we were) here a couple of months ago. It's amazing!"
It was a sentiment echoed by Vinny's former castmates.
"This is known to be a happy place," Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio said. "Everybody's always happy, laughing, smiling, having a good time. We came after the storm (and) it was the exact opposite. It was dead -- silence. It was awful. So to see this being rebuilt and us being back? It makes me happy."
And why wouldn't it? The Shore is back to being the place to be.
"It's a summer place," said Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, who was well known for the parties she had on boardwalk when "Jersey Shore" was still on the air. "You come with your family, your friends. It's just a good time."
Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Sam Giancola and Deena Cortese were also on hand to kick off the fun again. When asked which traditional Shore treats they were looking forward to the most, they just couldn't decide between the cheese balls and the fried Oreos. And if those seem like tame choices for the gang that had more than one brush with New Jersey's finest thanks to their past party days, well, Vinny explained why.
"The governor's here," he said with a glance off-screen toward Gov. Chris Christie. "We've got to behave."
"Jersey Shore" fans can see more from Vinny on his new MTV effort, aptly titled "The Show With Vinny," Thursdays at 10 p.m.