A popular Jersey Shore city says it’s getting serious about cracking down on a booze ban on its beaches and boardwalks this year as the summer season kicks off this weekend.
In order to emphasize the ban’s enforcement, local leaders in Wildwood, New Jersey passed an ordinance on Wednesday night that would prohibit possession of any alcohol containers on the beach and boardwalk, even if the container is unopened.
Politicians said the ban is not new, but police departments up and down the Jersey coast often turn a blind eye to the common practice of enjoying a cold beverage on the beach.
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron said that this summer will be different.
“Alcohol of any kind has always been prohibited on the beach and boardwalk,” Byron said in a statement Thursday. “In fact, there is already a sign at every street entrance to the beach.”
The new ordinance, the mayor said, “not only prohibits the drinking and/or open display of alcohol, but also says the mere existence of any kind of alcohol is prohibited.”
Wildwood decided to strengthen its ordinance in response to numerous annual complaints about people drinking and smoking marijuana. The city, which only has about 5-6,000 year-round residents, is inundated with tourists in the summer months.
“We understand people are on vacation and want to have a good time. We want everyone to enjoy Wildwood,” said Wildwood Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Mikulski. “Drinking, especially in the sun on vacation, often leads to excess and unruly behavior, not to mention increased health risks.”
The Post has reached out to the city for additional comment.
Violators of the new ordinance could face fines up to $2,000 and 90 days in jail. However, Bryan told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the goal isn’t to ruin vacations but to deter bad behavior.
He said first offenders will likely get off with a warning and asked to either throw the booze in the trash or take it back to their homes or hotels.
The Mayor denied that this was some sort of “cash grab.”
“Are people still going to bring alcohol to the beach? Probably. We’re looking for the worst offenders,” he told The Inquirer.
Designated restaurants or permitted events on the beach and boardwalk are the only exceptions.
The ordinance, which was first introduced on May 10 by city commissioners, will go into effect 20 days from its passage on Wednesday, per New Jersey state law.
On Memorial Day weekend in 2018, a 20-year-old woman was violently arrested on a Wildwood beach in a caught-on-camera incident after she was spotted drinking on the beach.
Emily Weinman, of Philadelphia, was later indicted on aggravated assault and resisting arrest charges and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in February 2019 — when she was banned from the beach.
Weinman later filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania against Wildwood and the police department, claiming they exaggerated her resistance “to justify their unreasonable and excessive use of force,” and was awarded $325,000.