Seaside Heights responds to weekend melee in the sand
Thousands of people and lots of fighting caused some chaos but the longer lasting effect is the dagger the Saturday night event in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park did to both borough's reputations.
The crowds flocked to the two Jersey Shore towns by their own personal invitations spread throughout social media, and once on the beach Saturday they postmarked their visit with images, Instagram posts, tweets and videos of partying, inappropriate language, infidelities and fights, some brutal in nature to watch.
They marked their RSVP to the unauthorized party by writing #Beachniknj18 under the party name "NJ Beach Meet Up", which is what SSH Police Chief Tommy Boyd told the Asbury Park Press drew the crowds in.
"Somebody just went on social media and posted this. It attracted the people that came down," Cpl. Stephen Shadiack with Seaside Park Police told NJ Advance Media. "When they got here, they found out there was no such thing. All fake."
Several fights started to take place with people throwing violent punches and kicking others while they were down on the sand on an individual outnumbered.
After all the brawling, Seaside Park Police told NJ Advance Media there were only two arrests.
WARNING: The tweets and videos contain violent and graphic content.
The event which caught many by surprise looks to have been planned out for over a month.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz said the organizers of the #beachniknj18 did not have a permit for one thing in SSH or SSP and the event encouraged activity and behavior "not permitted in Seaside Heights".
"#beachniknj18 appears to have been promoted by a person named Tahmir and a “DJ Bake” through social media, such as Instagram and Facebook," Vaz said. "I say “appears” as you cannot trust everything that you read and see on social media."
He said the event was initially targeted for Seaside Heights from 12:00 pm to 7:00 p.m. and then posts were put up moving it to Stockton Avenue in Seaside Park.
"It was apparently moved as a result of strict beach rules adopted by Seaside Heights in 2017 and the presence of a large family-centered event, 'Sand Soccer Storm', occupying large sections of the beach in Seaside Heights," Vaz said. "The Sand Soccer Storm event had the required special event permit."
Drinking alcohol is for those over the age of 21 and Vaz suspects it took place at the Saturday event.
"There were numerous promotions, associated with the event, for the sale of illegal alcohol. It was illegal as presented, both in terms of alcoholic beverages being sold without a license and being produced illegally," Vaz said. "While #beachniknj18 may not have promoted such sales directly, it was on the Instagram page for the event."
He is sending out a stern warning to anyone even thinking about planning one of these get-together's in the future.
"Our Police Department and other organizations, such as the Business Improvement District, do monitor social media, but you only find what you are looking for," Vaz said. "The experience with #beachniknj18 has provided us some new hashtags and key words to watch for, and we will."
Vaz thanked all law enforcement who responded and helped get things under control and then stressed to all visitors that this behavior exposed on Saturday is not what the borough is all about.
"We express our deepest regret to anyone whose experience of Seaside Heights was diminished by this outlaw event and assure you that this is not who we are and was an aberration which will be guarded against in the future."
As for those who threw the unauthorized beach bash with reported underage drinking, he leaves behind a message for them and the party-goers.
"Many people associated with Seaside Heights, including the Borough Government, work hard to provide a wholesome, safe, experience for everyone who lives in or visits our town. Promoting an unsanctioned event that violates our standards for safety and quality of life will not be tolerated. We are still exploring our options, but rest assured we are exploring all possibilities for holding accountable all those who caused this event to occur. Our message is clear, We welcome events that match our community values and participate in our permitting process. Anyone who promotes an event that is not sanctioned will be subject to whatever penalties we can bring to bear, including recovering the costs of our dealing with their illegal activity.”