Kids: The high diving horse of Atlantic City is back — in the form of a book! Grab your parents and come to the Quarter at Tropicana on Friday, May 28th, from 5:30 pm until 7 pm for the official launch party and book signing of The Diving Horse and the Magic Whistle. Written by local author Steven P. Winkle and illustrated by local artist Christie Mealo, this children’s book tells the story of a horse that dove in Atlantic City’s famed Steel Pier High Diving Horse Show.
I love the fact that Winkle is writing about local icons of the Jersey Shore. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know much about the world famous Diving Horse Show on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, I can tell you it was an exciting experience — I remember watching it when I was a little girl.
The High Diving Horse Show
My family and I took our seats in the bleachers, waiting anxiously for the show to begin. The filly, with a woman riding on her back, would inch up to the edge of the platform some 40 feet up in the air, hold still for a moment as if watching the soaring seagulls, then slide her front legs down the ramp and plunge into a deep tank below. The water swelled up in a huge wave and spilled over the sides of the tank. I remember worrying about the horses, and their riders!
The most famous rider, Sonora Webster Carver, went blind in 1931 when she hit the water from sixty feet above off-balance with her eyes open, yet she continued to dive until 1942.
The diving horses of Atlantic City dove their last in 1978, when the Steel Pier was bought by Resorts International. The last two horses were saved by an animal protection society, and Steel Pier, today, has become strictly an amusement pier. But I think it’s important that the legend of the diving horse lives on, which is why I’m going to pick up a copy of this book for my niece and nephew. After enjoying the story, I’m sure they’ll want to know more about the Diving Horse Show that their mom and I watched as little girls.
Winkle, a writer of mytical prose and poetry, published a previous book called Elephant, Elephant Come Alive, about Margate’s Lucy the Elephant coming to life when she realizes how boring it is to stand still forever. Readers can travel along with Lucy as she visits all her favorite places to eat, shop and play at the Jersey Shore.
According to an interview by Joan Stippick at the South Jersey Online Bookstore, Winkle’s audience is a mixture of moms, kids, and mythology enthusiasts. When not writing, Winkle runs the Malelani Cafe in Ventnor City with George Drakopoulos, which they are aiming to become a central hub for art, music and cultural activities, a concept that runs through one of his Facebook groups, The Winkle Society, where he lists art and cultural events running at the South Jersey Shore and beyond.
The book launch party at the Quarter will be held next to White House | Black Market in front of the stairwell. For directions and other information visit the book’s website. The book can be pre-ordered through Amazon.com. Winkle will also be signing books at Borders Bookstore in Mays Landing at 3 pm on June 19th.
The learn more about the diving horses see this video: