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N.J. Officials Briefly Close Popular Boardwalk, Citing 'Civil Unrest'

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New York|N.J. Officials Briefly Close Popular Boardwalk, Citing 'Civil Unrest'

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/27/nyregion/wildwood-boardwalk-civil-unrest.html

The officials offered few details as to why they declared a state of emergency in Wildwood on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

City officials in Wildwood, N.J., briefly closed the popular boardwalk during one of the busiest weekends of the year.Credit...Hannah Beier/Getty Images

The City of Wildwood, N.J., briefly closed its boardwalk late Sunday, citing "unruly teen crowds" at the bustling beachside attraction during the busy Memorial Day weekend but offering few details about what prompted the decision.

City officials declared a state of emergency after midnight on Sunday, they said, but had reopened the boardwalk by 6 a.m. Monday.

In a statement on Monday, the officials said the decision stemmed from "civil unrest" caused by "the extremely large number of young adults and juveniles in the city" but failed to specify what, if anything, the young people did to cause the state of emergency.

The officials said the presence of the young people caused "an irrepressible number of calls for service" beginning Saturday night that left the police unable to respond to other emergencies, and that nearby police agencies were brought in to aid the department.

Late Sunday night, "conditions again began to deteriorate," the officials said without elaboration, and they decided to order the boardwalk's closure.

The statement did not say whether the emergency declaration resulted in any arrests.

The mayor of Wildwood, Ernie Troiano Jr., said in the statement that he supported the city's Police Department "in protecting this community from these nuisance crowds."

"Wildwood will not tolerate unruly, undisciplined, unparented children," Mr. Troiano said.

Located in a resort area on a barrier island in the southernmost part of New Jersey, Wildwood is one of a handful of Jersey Shore communities that have in recent years denounced the throngs of teenagers and young adults who have sometimes congregated on the boardwalks in summer.

Last year, State Senator Michael L. Testa Jr., a Republican who represents the communities, introduced a handful of bills he described as related to "a trend of lawlessness by drunk and rowdy teenagers" in towns along the shore. After reports of underage drinking and vandalism last Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Testa renewed calls to advance the legislation, but none of the measures has passed.

The city of Wildwood, with the nearby cities of North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, brought in $1.9 billion in visitor spending in 2022. It is a popular vacation destination and had just opened its beaches for the season on Friday, according to its tourism board. It had planned events for Sunday that included a food-truck fair and a free concert.

Sunday's state of emergency was declared after recent reports of other problems in Wildwood. Last month, benches along the boardwalk were vandalized by a group of young men, the police said. And on Tuesday, two men attacked a store on the boardwalk; one brandished a knife while the other pointed a gun at employees who were closing up, the police said.

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