Dani's Blog: THE JUICE Inspiration

Our (Very Late) Christmas Card

An Ode to the Jet Star Roller Coaster

Every January since 2005, KF and I have sent out a Happy New Year card instead of a Christmas card. Narrated by our wise furry friend, Spot Fiori (Hope joined in on the fun years later), illustrated by yours truly and colored up by KF, the card (folded up accordian style) suggests ways to have a happy new year from his perspective.

Our very first Happy New Year card by Spot Fiori
Our very first Happy New Year card by Spot Fiori

We’ve always got great feedback on them and always had a great time working on them.

Two of my favorite panels by Spot Fiori
Two of my favorite panels by Spot Fiori
The panel illustrating the rescue of Hope Fiori, and a panel about the most dreaded day of the year for our dogs- July 4th
The panel illustrating the rescue of Hope Fiori, and a panel about the most dreaded day of the year for our dogs- July 4th

2013, to say the least, was a difficult year and not surprisingly around the time I normally begin drawing the card, I found myself with illustrator and writers block. When the new year rolled around I hoped we could come up with something for Valentines but didn’t get motivated until I saw this stunning, beautifully sad photo by Jack Fusco. (His work is amazing- especially his night shots!)

A beautiful and heartbreaking photo of Seaside's Jet Star roller coaster after Hurricane Sandy
A haunting photo by Jack Fusco of Seaside’s Jet Star roller coatser which ended up in the ocean after Hurricane Sandy

This photo really inspired me as did my history with that roller coaster, so I worked on the card with Spot and handed it off to KF to color it up. In the end, while we really loved the finished sketch, it was just so sad. I pictured our friends and family opening it with anticipation of giggles and fun Spot “tips” but then having it be the bummer of their day. I decided not to send it.

Yesterday began the removal of the jet star roller coaster from the ocean next to what was Seaside’s Casino Pier Boardwalk. The roller coaster in the photo and in our card… the “big” roller coaster of my childhood- of so many of our childhoods. The one I couldn’t wait to be big enough to ride. The amusement park ride that quickly became a symbol of the sadness and destruction of Hurricane Sandy. As photos were posted of the removal and people bickered in the comments sections of articles about it and on Facebook… I thought of our card.

SDB Our Late Christmas Card_Spot and Hope Roller Coaster 2013

I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous to say, but what ran through my mind was something like this… ‘Thanks for the memories, Jet Star roller coaster. A summer night jaunt, on your rough and creaky coaster car seat teetering on the edge of the boardwalk, just close enough to the ocean to add drama, was so often a highlight of our “down the shore” summer nights… Those magical nights of not thinking of anything but what ride you will take next and what flavor ice cream you will order after. I know you will return in some form- not the same but maybe better (and, hopefully, safer!). I still live for those nights… and we will be waiting.’ 

So, I hope our “Christmas card” this year didn’t make anyone too sad- after all it is ever hopeful. Here’s wishing everyone a brilliant (rest of) 2013 filled with love and hope. For us so far, its been pretty great. Onward and upward indeed. Jersey Strong!  Xo Dani

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About the author



Sweet Dani B is my small business and my mantra is Life Is Sweet! Both my business and life center around celebrating life’s occasions and making those occasions amazing. We design one-of-a-kind cookies, invitations, paper goods and pull them all together to deliver fabulous parties and events.


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  • What a beautiful post. I would have loved to open that card. It’s important to remember that life is ungrounded, so we can also remember to taste each and every moment. It is sad, but it’s also beautiful and heartbreakingly happy.

  • What a great entry Dan. You and Keith should create a book one day with all your collected “Spotisms” from “The Spotimist”. I know our boys would love to read them before bed! I was fortunate enough to rock out on The Jet Star for more than one occasion. I hope to take the boys to Jersey Shore one day, tell them our family history spent there, the devastation of Sandy and hopefully a ride on the new and improved Boardwalk Jet Star. As always, I love your collaborative illustrations, and the feeling that they leave on me afterwards. Keep up the good work!! xo