Love for Bennys? Not all Jersey Shore residents hate visitors
We know them as Bennys — folks from up north and New York who visit New Jersey's coast and essentially take over the shore towns through Labor Day Weekend.
Year-round Jersey Shore residents are counting the days until they can enjoy the beach and weather for themselves. But these summertime visitors aren't as hated as you may think.
In fact, plenty of residents know their lives are much better off because of Bennys.
"They come down here, they spend a lot of money," said Paul Smith, who lives along the water in Point Pleasant and runs TravelSmiths travel agency on Route 88. "If they didn't, we would be paying a lot more in taxes."
Smith avoids the beach during the summer, and says local roads and stores that are quiet most of the year are considerably more full starting in late May.
"The whole area would not be as developed if it wasn't for that 13-week annoyance," he said.
Decades ago, Smith was a "Benny" himself, visiting Manasquan each summer from Essex County.
The origin of the term isn't certain; some think of it as acronym for the home towns, counties or states these visitors come from (Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York, for example).
"Although it does get kind of frustrating with the Bennys coming down to the Jersey Shore and taking over the restaurants and the bars ... they do add a certain economic factor and benefit to the community," said Belmar resident Eduardo Cartaya. "And a number of people have jobs and create a life based on the activity that the Bennys bring."
Over the years, Cartaya has learned to stay away from certain parts of town, on certain nights, during the warmer months. Tuesday nights, he said, can present a traffic nightmare in the area of Bar-A, where "beat the clock" specials entice hordes of visitors.
The day after Labor Day — Sept. 3 this year — welcomes "local summer," Cartaya said. Folks who live near the water 12 months a year can enjoy it without all the crowds.
"We're going to swim all the way until the first week in October," Cartaya said.
Cartaya said he's unsure whether his welcoming Benny outlook puts him in the minority or majority of shore residents. A Facebook group named Bennys Go Home!!! currently has 715 members.
Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said residents complain from time to time about the nuisances posed by so-called Bennys. Boyd said police crack down on illegal activity, but residents need to understand they're living in a resort town where people come to have fun.
Arrests have dipped in the borough by 60-70 percent since Sandy hit in 2012, Boyd said.