Toms River, NJ beach curfew moved back to 10 p.m.
TOMS RIVER – The curfew on the beaches in Toms River was moved back an hour from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. after residents and business owners complained about large, rowdy groups of teens.
The township instituted a curfew of 9 p.m. in 2020 for children age 17 and under if unaccompanied by a parent or guardian on North Beach when rowdy crowds of teens gathered. It was moved up an hour to 10 p.m. in 2021.
The curfew was again put in place this summer until 11 p.m. after unruly behavior during the Memorial Day holiday. Ortley Beach was also added to the curfew. The curfew was moved back in early August to 10 p.m., effective Aug. 11.
"This change to a 10 p.m. start time was made in response to requests by barrier island residents and businesses and to make the curfew hours consistent with neighboring communities," the township said on its Facebook page.
It has not been a quiet summer for residents who took their frustrations to the Township Council meeting on July 27, complaining about unruly teens hanging out on the beach keeping visitors from going out at night or even forcing summer residents to go home.
"We've had residents and guests who live on Ocean Avenue say 'I went home this weekend. I can't be here with 50 and 100 kids walking in front of my house,'" said Paul Jeffrey of the Ortley Beach Taxpayer Association. He said that the association has spoken to renters and asked them to be aware of their teen's behavior.
Crowds are not good for business
The focus of some complaints is the Barnacle Bill's amusement area and the large rowdy groups that gather there. Co-owner Jo Ann Petruzel addressed the council and said the large number of teens also cause problems for the business. They drive away families with young children and the bathrooms have to be locked because of messes left behind when groups go in.
"I have nothing against kids hanging on our property. It's been going on for 60 years, but not at these numbers. It takes on a whole different animal when you have 100, 400, 500 kids. They're loud, many are obnoxious and are rude and abusive to our workers," Petrazel said.
She also asked for police to better enforce the curfew and find out the source of the groups.
"I'm hearing TikTok. I have no idea – I'm not on it but that's what I've been told by some younger people.
Crowds caught on video
Videos and incidents posted on social media in recent weeks showed large groups of teens on the north beaches but did not result in any arrests, according to Toms River Police Spokeswoman Jillian Messina.
One video posted July 24 showed a group chanting "F**k Joe Biden" as they walked toward the beach. Some of the crowd climbed over a fence instead of staying on the street.
The Independence Day weekend was a busy one for Toms River police with two incidents over two nights, according to Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little. A group of 40 to 50 juveniles refused to leave Silver Beach on July 3 at 11:30 p.m. and were reported by a private security firm. Little said once police arrived they dispersed. An 18-year-old from Park Ridge was arrested on a theft charge after stealing a decorative sign.
A rowdier group of 400 to 500 gathered on 4th and Ocean avenues blocking traffic and not immediately leaving the area when told to by police. One female juvenile gave an officer the middle finger and kicked him repeatedly. As officers took her into custody, the crowd threw rocks and tried to interfere with the arrest.
The curfew is in effect until Sept. 30.