It has been ten years since Bruce Springsteen launched his “Rising” album, driving around a raw Asbury Park in his Mustang GT with Matt Lauer and hosting a huge concert on the beachfront in late July.

Some believe that week-long national spotlight in 2002 was the “stake in the ground” for Asbury Park’s rising…err rebirth.

The “man behind the van,” Dan Shotwell, owner of Best Carpet Cleaner in Town.

One of the people who began living and playing here before Asbury Park became the place to be again was Dan Shotwell.  With a ton of creativity and a few skateboards he and his friends embraced what Asbury Park was.

I spoke with Shotwell, about the city’s more modern history and learned why skateboarders love Asbury Park so much.

TBP:  So many have forgotten or never known what the downtown was like early in the last decade and you are one of the few who lived it.

Shotwell:  I lived on Cookman Avenue when most of the downtown was boarded up.  It was a bunch of tight-knit creative and art-type people here.  Rent was $650 including utilities for a beautifully restored loft.  The only vehicles on the road were buses.  I liked the Gotham City type flavor.  It was a really great time.

We would play home run derby in the middle of Cookman Avenue and Bond.  Live bands jammed on the sidewalk and parking was all over and free.  We explored a lot of the old beautiful abandoned buildings.  There were tons of legends and rumors about what happened in which building when.  We ran out of one Cookman Avenue building screaming.

TBP:  I love hearing stories of the city back then.  It helps people appreciate all the teamwork involved in making the city what it is today.  What are your memories of the beachfront?

Shotwell:  The beach was nuts in the best way possible.  If you had red shorts, you could surf all day, any day, anywhere with the lifeguards.

I remember one time I was waiting for a red light to change and a cop pulled up and said, “You can’t sit here and wait for the light.  Just look both ways and go.”

On the northern most corner on the west side of Kingsley Avenue, there was an old hotel pool that was one of the best skateboarding courses of its time according to (skateboarding legend) Tony Alva.  The abandoned pool had the sweetest shapes and transitions to it.  I think it was last called the Deal Lake Hotel pool.  It was on the land where the architectural details for Convention Hall are now stored.

Every once in a while I roll by that corner and see a spec of blue paint from the pool in the dirt and reminisce.  Sometimes it was easy to take it all for granted back then.  We were all in our 20’s and we knew it was a special time and had a feeling it would be gone someday but did not appreciate enough the moment while it was happening.  I remember one time, we were all sitting around late at night talking.  (TriCity News publisher) Dan Jacobson, told us to “remember this time.  Soon there will be no parking and four star restaurants everywhere.”

TBP:  Now you are all grown up and about to get married to the beautiful and wonderful Kari.  And you have a super-successful green carpet cleaning business.  So many people I know depend on you – and trust you – to clean their carpets and upholstery.  I brought you an area rug recently that I bought at the ReStore and you made that thing look like new.  You even put a black light on it to find stains I did not want to think about.

And you are the man behind the bold red and black van driving around town.  Some of your fans, like me, call you “McSteemer.”

Shotwell:  (Laughs).  My van now was inspired by my first vehicle, a red Honda Element.  When I started by business I had one car for work and personal, which was the Element.  So as business grew, and I was able to buy a van to service clients better, I made sure to paint it like my first vehicle.

My goal is to make carpets and upholstery pristine.  I have a spa for area rugs in my shop on Second Avenue.  For ten years, we have been specializing in deep cleaning residential and commercial carpets with zero toxicity.  We were green before green meant “green.”

More at: BestCarpetCleanerinTown.com or call 732.775.0003.  Free delivery and pick up of area rugs.