New Jersey

City commissioners in Wildwood ban backpacks on the boardwalk in unanimous vote

The ban will go into effect starting on Thursday

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City Commissioners in Wildwood, New Jersey, voted to pass a backpack ban for the boardwalk after a chaotic start to the summer season that forced city leaders to shut down the boardwalk for several hours one weekend.

The emergency ordinance bans backpacks from 8 p.m. every night until 4 a.m. and goes into effect on Thursday.

“When you act a fool, you bring light to bad behavior, then we’re gonna react to it," Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano said.

It's part of the city's solution to cracking down on crowds of unruly teens and young adults. There are some exceptions to the rule that include diaper bags.

The city decided to bring up and subsequently pass the emergency ordinance after officials say an extremely large crowd of unruly teens and young adults created "civil unrest" over Memorial Day weekend.

“For the most part, parents need to get a grip on their kids. Teach them what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable and not just let them roam free. And it’s a shame that the rest of us kind of have to suffer from it," Logan Watts of Ridley Township said.

Wildwood's mayor even declared a state of emergency on Memorial Day citing conditions that threatened the health and safety of residents and visitors.

“If you act like this at home, stay home. If you don’t do this at home, don’t do it here," Troiano said.

City leaders say that the police department is adequately staffed and they hope the bag ban prevents people, particularly teens, from bringing alcohol and weapons onto the boardwalk.

While walking on the busy boardwalk on Wednesday evening, Chloe Hecksher of Kennet Square said she had mixed opinions about the city's decision.

“I am all for safety, so I think it’s kind of important. But at the same time, if I want to carry my personal stuff, especially as a female, I think it’s important," she said.

Officials are also hopeful that this ban maintains the quality of life for families so they can enjoy their summer.

Ocean City and Sea Isle City each enacted a similar ban on backpacks last year.

This all comes as a group of New Jersey police chiefs and Republican lawmakers says parents should be held civilly or criminally responsible for the actions of their children that create disturbances or damage in public places after a second consecutive year of disturbances at some Jersey Shore boardwalks over Memorial Day weekend.

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