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Famed concert stage The Stone Pony to celebrate 50th birthday Thursday night

Famed concert stage The Stone Pony to celebrate 50th birthday Thursday night
Famed concert stage The Stone Pony to celebrate 50th birthday Thursday night 02:15

ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- It's a milestone for an iconic New Jersey concert venue, where artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi got their start.

On Thursday, The Stone Pony in Asbury Park turned 50 years old.

If the guitar-lined walls inside the place could talk, they'd have half a century's worth of stories to tell. General manager Caroline O'Toole has been with the venue for 20 years.

"It's kind of surreal to even think about it, because not many businesses get here," O'Toole said.

Balloons were up for the celebration. The venue officially opened on Feb. 8, 1974. Locals-turned household names like Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Little Steven Van Zandt helped put the bar and concert venue on the map. Springsteen has been back as recently as last year for surprise shows.

"These local bands, they really try and get them involved to get them up on stage, and get them experience. You never know," said Bob Kierner of East Windsor.

Maddie Ehret is a local and her love story with her boyfriend started at a show at the venue. When she travels for work, she proudly shares that she's from Asbury Park.

"When I tell people where I live, they instantly think of two things, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, The Stone Pony," Ehret said.

And the party won't end on Feb. 8, itself. The venue has a calendar packed full of anniversary events throughout the year.

"We're gonna have special shows. We're gonna have art. We're gonna have charities," O'Toole said.

She reflected on the past few decades that she says haven't been easy for the famed concert stage.

"The Stone Pony actually went out of business a few times and had to close, but then someone kept coming and saving it. The Stone Pony surviving makes Asbury Park thrive," O'Toole said.

"And this place stands here, and should always be here," Kierner said.

As part of the celebration, there will be a proclamation by the state that will officially mark Feb. 8 "The Stone Pony Day."

Doors open to the public at 7 p.m. for a 50th anniversary celebration featuring live music from artists like the original DJ who performed on the night it opened.

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