You Can’t Police Wildwood Boardwalk Style

Baggy pants will ride low. Racy t-shirts will roam free.

Oh dear Wildwood, you’re at it again.

Officials of the South Jersey Shore town are proposing a ban on baggy pants  on the boardwalk, and also a requirement that boardwalk patrons wear a shirt between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and shoes at all times. The vote will be on June 12.

This is stupid.

Have you ever been to the Wildwood boardwalk on a Friday or Saturday night? It’s strutting ground for teenage peacocks, the girls covered in whatever fashions People Style magazine are promoting as hot this month, while guys have stuck to the same uniform for the last 20 years: white muscle tanks and shorts. The baggy thing is just a more recent development.

The proposed dress code falls somewhere between last year’s proposed ban on racy t-shirts and the fight over allowing restaurants to serve booze on the boardwalk. I’m not a big fan of the former (do teenage girls really need shorts that splay “DTF” across their butts? And why is Marilyn Monroe a gangster? And STOP IT with the Ill shirts), but this stuff is impossible to police, and a waste of resources in a town that was so desperate for revenue that they tiptoed to the line of implementing beach tags (they did the more sensible thing—started talks to share services with North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest).

If Wildwood wants to “maintain a family-friendly image,” their better bet is to stop letting houses rent to packs of 18-year-olds and their much younger friends on senior and prom week trips.

Wearing stupid stuff on the Wildwood boardwalk is a local right of passage, as much as is saucehose at Sam’s Pizza Palace and daring friends to ride the Sea Serpent. Kelly Ripa did it. Hell, I did it (but didn’t stay over for senior week because my mother would have killed me).

Don’t like it? Ocean City’s just up the Garden State Parkway.

Jen A. Miller is a Collingswood-based writer and author of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May.

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  • connie delury

    So now the WW police will now walk around with rulers to measure skin exposure? how about hynie cheeks peeking out from the bottom of shorts? shall we have a hynie patrol? how about walking along in your bathing suit exposing everying, and the girls who wear no underwear (thongs are NOT underwear) and wear white skin-tight shorts? ban them too? how about crude derogatory T-shirts? shall we take a vote and ban them? How about the cursing? fighting? and the drunks? shall we put the “moral patrol” at the bottom of each ww boardwalk ramp and have them make a decision whether or not the visitors are wildwood boardwalk appropriate?

    Wildwood has always been a right of passage; you can go back 50 years and read similiar articles in area newspapers. When i brought my little 8 year old nephew down with me each year we left the boardwalk around 9:00 when the teenagers came out. it was their time, not my time to be out with a little boy. If you want wildwood to be “family” friendly, then tell the hotel owners to quit the “disneyworld” hotel prices so families can afford it; stop renting to children for sr. week who cram every friend they have in the room and get drunk before they go out; stop the greedy arcades from sucking the money from families with games that are $1, $2, and $3 each; put stores on the boardwalk that will hold the interest of adults (like ocean city boardwalk). Wildwood’s problems will not be solved because young boys will be forced to wear their pants 3 inches higher, and we all put on a pair of shoes.

    wildwood leadership should take note: King Louis XVI had a similiar law in 1780. the common people were only allowed to wear certain colors (no royal blue, gold, silver, etc). Well, the common people stormed the bastille and then chopped off Louis’ head!

  • George Deery

    Saucehose = Mack’s, Not Sam’s. Sorry had to mention that. I know my Sam’s!!! Agreed that the ban is stupid. You can’t police the boardwalk for something like that. Just keep walking, you will see something else that will make you forget about baggy pants.

  • Charles Kuski

    I agree with most of this article. As a Wildwood resident, it’s sad to see the town ravaged by (and the author said it properly) “packs of 18 year olds” drinking and going crazy. Though I don’t know what kind of law the city government could enact that limited restrictions on who to rent to without becoming (ageist at least, but possibly open the door to some other forms of prejudice).

    It might be as simple as making motels more responsible for their patrons’ actions. If we make the motel partially responsible for underage drinking on their property (just like some towns make the bartenders & bars liable for overserving patrons) it may solve parts of this problem.

    But I like the debate, even if the law proposed is needless.

  • LobsterGator

    I’ve been visiting the Wildwoods for decades. Wild packs of teenagers getting sauced and having fun has had it’s place in Wildwood along with the families for as long as I can remember, but I think mostly it was kept to the rented houses more inland than near the boardwalk. The baggy pants thing is more of (IMO) an attempt to rid the boardwalk of the potential for gang-related violence. The baggy pants hanging down thing is a prison thing, and a gang thing. Makes it easier to hide weapons, etc., if you believe the news reports and articles about on the internet. I’d hate to see the boardwalk return to the horrible days of the 80s when gangs and criminals were a-plenty. We had to stop going for a number of years because it was getting dangerous – I recall in the course of two days, a child had been kidnapped on the boardwalk right out of his mother’s hands, my child was almost kidnapped on the beach (2 men under the boardwalk attempted to lure him to them), and another child walked right into a ring of young men who were waving knives at each other (right in front of us, my husband stepped in and pushed the kid through because his parents were oblivious to where he was). I believe that was our last visit in the late 80s and we didn’t return until 2000.

  • Hurdur

    Don’t associate my Sam’s Pizza Palace with “saucehose” (Mack’s)… just insulting! But these bans in question are superfluous (baggy pants are actually less popular today than they were 10-15 years ago) and contradictory to what the boardwalk is all about – teenagers being teenagers, and having fun. I wouldn’t wear 99% of the t-shirts they sell there, nor am I a fan of obnoxious teens, but this is what the boardwalk businesses cater to. In killing one, you kill the other, and we’re left with another Ocean City… which, quite frankly, is boring.

    In my 28 years of life, all of them spent in the Wildwoods during the summer, it’s been more or less the same way… and never rowdy enough to have to implement bans on certain fashion. Ridiculous.

  • Randy Senna

    Oppression; you disguise your ugly face under the title of
    “ordinance”.

    Do people really understand how an ordinance is created?

    Someone gets an idea; In Wildwood, 3 commissioners vote on the
    ordinance…

    2 out of 3 say yes, and it becomes law!

    Yes, they
    have to read it at… public meetings, and perhaps hear some people’s
    comments, however, no matter what anyone else thinks, 2 out of 3 votes saying
    yes, and the law is passed.

    How do they plan on enforcing this new
    law?

    It reads, if the pants are more then “3 inches below the wearer’s
    waist”…..

    Will we be hiring new “low pants enforcers”, and create new
    jobs on the tax payer budget, to go around measuring people’s “pants line” as
    they pass by?

    Or will we be passing out tape measures to
    the local police, who can wear them on their utility belts, plainly visible, so
    the sight of the tape measure can act as a deterrent for would be “low pants
    wearers”?

    Will we be buying new paddy wagons to haul in all these
    dangerous criminals?

    Or building new jails to hold these
    offenders?

    May be we can add “long hair wearers”, with hair more then 2
    5/8 of an inch from the scalp, or people with more then 1 earring in each
    ear…

    Or maybe, expand that to having any earrings that are not in your
    ear….

    And tattoo wearers…. they should have to wear clothing that
    completely hides their tattoos….

    And all those fat people… let’s set
    up scales at each block and have a check point as people pass by…

    When
    I was a kid, everyday I stood with my fellow class members, and I recited the
    pledge of allegiance to the flag….

    It meant something to me… and it
    still does.

    With Liberty, and Justice for all; does anyone even wonder
    what happened to these words and meanings?

    The definition of Liberty, is
    to live one’s life, without fear of reprisals.

    How can it NOT be a
    violation of liberty, to make a law making it a crime to have your pants hanging
    3 1/2 inches instead of 3 inches?

    For the record, I personally do not
    like the look of the punkster’s high pulled underwear, and low pants hanging
    beyond their bottom butt…

    However, I respect their right to do
    so.

    I cannot impose my views upon anyone else, and still expect to live
    my life in freedom.

    It is important to understand that the Wildwood
    Boardwalk is NOT a private enterprise; on private property, the owners can
    impose their personal views on dress codes and the like…

    If you do not
    like it, you do not have to enter upon the private property…

    But when
    you have publicly owned streets or boardwalks, NO ONE can dictate things such as
    personal expression, UNLESS, it becomes a public safety issues, with IMMINENT
    DANGER created by such actions.

    I own and operate the Retro Arcade at
    the Boardwalk Mall, on the Boardwalk in Wildwood….

    And my clientele is
    targeted at a family crowd….

    As a general rule, I do not have people
    who come to my place of entertainment wearing such “offensive” dress, so it can
    be said that such rules will not effect me….

    But the oppression of
    anyone’s liberties does effect EVERYONE.

    Today it might not effect
    you…

    How about tomorrow ?