Ocean City, NJ, Takes Action to Stop Gatherings of Drunken Teens

May 30, 2023

OCEAN CITY, (CAPE MAY) NJ —Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian on Tuesday signed off on orders that will send a strong message to teens and their parents that the beach, boardwalk and other public areas will no longer be open to mass gatherings that include alcohol consumption and other infractions of the law. 

All beaches in Ocean City will be closed at 8 p.m. Carrying backpacks will not be permitted after 8 p.m. on the beach and boardwalk. Boardwalk bathrooms will be closed at 10 p.m. The curfew for juveniles will move from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The new policies come in response to a Memorial Day Weekend in Ocean City that saw the continuation of a trend that began when statewide legislation largely stripped police officers of the ability to question juveniles, search juveniles, and confiscate alcohol. The legislation also eliminates meaningful consequences for juveniles who break these laws.

Over the weekend, police responded to 999 incidents (up from 869 during Memorial Day Weekend in 2022). In addition to underage drinking, police responded to incidents involving vandalism, assaults, shoplifting, confiscation of a firearm, and a variety of other infractions. Ocean City firefighter/EMTs were just as busy responding to several incidents involving teens who drank to the point of unconsciousness, assault victims, mental health issues and other incidents.

“We want parents, grandparents and families to know that we’re all in this together, and we will be holding people accountable,” Mayor Jay Gillian said. “I also want to send a message to our governor and legislators that the laws they forced on all municipalities are a threat to public safety, and they deprive families of the opportunity to enjoy the Jersey Shore.” 

The new beach curfew will apply to people of all ages, as will the evening backpack ban. The new rules will be part of a citywide plan that will include police staffing, more announcements on the boardwalk and a public awareness campaign.

“I understand that these new directives will affect many people who are not teens, but it’s important that we stop this type of behavior now,” Gillian said. “In the end, protecting our reputation as ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort’ will benefit everybody in Ocean City.” 

“I want to support the men and women of our police department,” Gillian said. “They have been doing everything they can – within the law – to address this situation, and I want to give them the tools to get the job done.” 

An emergency meeting of City Council will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 1 in Council Chambers at City Hall. A news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Ocean City Music Pier. Mayor Jay Gillian and Police Chief Jay Prettyman will be available to answer questions at that time.