Best behavior at NJ beaches, while pandemic park goers get rowdy
It was a mixed bag of behavior in New Jersey according to municipal and county officials, as many headed outside Saturday to enjoy summer-like temperatures.
James J. Braddock Park in North Bergen was closed Sunday, after a crowd in the park a day earlier did not follow social distancing protocol and became unruly, according to the North Bergen Township Facebook page.
The road into the park was closed Saturday but no one was sent home, Hudson County Freeholder chairman Anthony Vainieri told the Hudson Daily Voice
Vainieri later announced via a Facebook post that the park would not reopen Sunday.
“Due to the overcrowding in Braddock Park, people not respecting social distancing and yelling back and being disrespectful to our sheriff officers, the park will now be closed,” Vainieri posted.
Two state parks, Ramapo Mountain State Park and Norvin Green State Forest, were already at their permitted capacity as of Sunday morning, according to a Facebook post by the state parks division.
Seaside Heights police chief Tommy Boyd told Townsquare Media things went "very well" Saturday with the large crowds that descended on the beaches and boardwalk.
"Everybody observed social distancing. No problems whatsoever," Boyd said. "We've got the Sheriff's Department backing us up with patrols so we're in good shape. Everybody seems to be acting very reasonably."
Social distancing appeared to be in action on the beach in Belmar as well, according to photo journalist Dennis Symons of MidJersey.news.
"It appeared people kept a far enough distance between beach blankets to maintain the six foot rule for social distancing," Symons reported.
Lines were long on the Belmar boardwalk for beach tags, according to a photo posted by the news website.
Wildwood mayor Pete Byron said he was on the boardwalk Saturday and thought Friday was actually a busier day for visitors.
“Friday was just perfect and then Saturday it started out slow because it was a little cloudy in the morning but as the day went on it picked up and it was a pretty good crowd up there,” Byron said.
The beaches had a good deal of people, as well, with social distancing being observed, according to Bryon.
Bryon said that with early forecasts for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend not looking as clear and limited options for activity beyond the beach and boardwalk, he’s not sure there will be the traditional big crowds.
“I don’t see the governor loosening up too much at this point until at least after Memorial Day, so I think what you got is what you got. The piers aren’t going to be open, the arcades, the games of chance. All the things that add to the ambiance of the shore I don’t see them being open for the next couple of weeks,” Byron said.
Chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow isn't ready to commit to a forecast for the holiday weekend.
"It is too early and there are too many factors in play to offer a confident forecast for Memorial Day Weekend. For now, I'll just mention that normal high temperatures for late May are in the mid 70s. Average lows are mid 50s," Zarrow said.
Additional marine traffic was anticipated Sunday as charter fishing boats and watercraft rentals were also permitted again after Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Saturday.
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