Editor's Note: Columnist Philip Potempa is reporting from Atlantic City while traveling this weekend.
My last time visiting Atlantic City, N.J. was a trip with my parents Chester and Peggy in July 2000.
After nearly 15 years absence, it's time to see what's new and which old favorite haunts haven't changed. For my last visit, we stayed at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino.
And of course, Donald Trump's hotel and casino also remain a neighboring claim-to-fame along the Boardwalk.
It was back in November 1997 when I wrote a story in The Times that reported: "The casino kings of Buffington Harbor in Gary are expanding their landscape as Trump and Majestic Star casinos work on plans for the Region's newest resort and recreation experience."
I was detailing the ground-breaking ceremony and construction of what was reported as a $17 million 301-room hotel and convention center to be called The Inn to accompany what was then the Trump and Majestic Star casino operations.
Trump himself told me at the time in 1997, he wanted "Buffington Harbor operations to eventually rival its sister operation in Atlantic City."
"We're very excited about what's happening in Buffington Harbor and there's still more to come," he said.
"We've got plans for a hotel and eventually, we'd like to have the same type of entertainment offering you see in Atlantic City. I think the opportunities we have there (Buffington Harbor) are endless."
At the time, he also directed me to talk to Suze Di Pietro-Stewart, who was his director of entertainment and public relations, and proudly touted his Atlantic City property called Trump Marina, featuring a 724-room hotel, 11 on-property restaurants and a 450-seat theater showroom called "The Shell," featuring headline talent like the Neville Brothers, Rita Rudner, Frank Sinatra Jr., The Wallflowers, George Carlin, Chris Rock and Rick James.
Today, not only are Carlin and James long gone, but Trump's gaming property in Gary was sold to Majestic Casino in 2007.
Local legendary name
It was in April 2006 when Northwest Indiana names offered condolences to the family of Charlie Blum, president/CEO of Star Plaza Theatre, on the passing of his beloved father Bernard "Bill" Blum, who died at the family's Merrillville home at the age of 86, survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Lorraine.
Born and raised in Atlantic City, Bill was a World War II veteran with the United States Air Force. While residing in New Jersey, Bill operated three auction houses on the Boardwalk here in Atlantic City and was active in the local community theater scene. He also served as the chairman of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee, and was instrumental in the election of President John F. Kennedy. Bill and his family moved to Las Vegas in 1973 where he continued to be involved in local community theater. Musical comedies being his passion, Bill loved to be on stage - to make people laugh, and to entertain.