By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun
Having hindsight in the little New Jersey resort town of Wildwood will soon be a civic offense punishable by a $25 fine. “That’s right, Rambo! You heard me! I want you, and your plumber’s crack out of town, now!” Police chief Steven Long says his officers are getting special training to enforce the new “saggy pants law” when it becomes effective on July 2 — just in time for the big Fourth of July festivities.
This is no small task for the sheriff and his merry band because Wildwood is a very popular resort island on the Atlantic shore. It’s full-time population of about 5,500 folks swells to as much as 250,000 during the summer months. Apparently, a great many (that’s plethora to you, Ron) of these touristy-folks leave their belts at home when they schlep on over to Wildwood. When they crawl the beaches, boardwalks, roller-coaster, water and amusement parks, and the juke-box joints in town there is just too much polka-dot drawers, tattoos and front and back cleavages on display.
The permanent residents support the law — in fact several spoke out in favor of it during the town council meeting where the law was enacted.
Here are a couple quotes I took from the article I read. “It’s long overdue,” one lady said, “People who choose to dress like that offend any person. There has to be some common standard of decency. It offends all of us.” Another man said, “We need it. This is our city. You have to respect it.”
The city commissioner said the city is not trying to be the fashion police but, “There’s a fine line that gets crossed between being a fashion statement and being obnoxious. Families feel threatened.”
The mayor was great. He said the city wasn’t going to be out “...hunting these kids down. We’re not going to be out there with a tape measure. But we know what’s right and not right. If we don’t make an attempt to clean our town up, who’s going to? This is just adding a little bit of decency to our town. It’s amazing — and this is a pun — how decency has fallen through the cracks.” (Get it?)
Chief Long and the mayor hope that citations will not have to be issued for low-slung jeans — just gentle reminders to hike them up. However, the law is serious enough that subsequent violations could result in fines up to $200 and 40 hours of community service. Of course, they expect constitutional challenges to the law from the American Civil Liberties Union and probably the American Civil Plumber’s Cleavage Union.
All this family decency and civic pride and image talk seems to be a little bit contradictory when one considers that Wildwood is a glitzy, neon, carnival-like tourist trap of a town on the Jersey shore. The town bills itself as the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll” and even has a “Doo-Wop Museum.” All it’s trollies, gas/convenience stores, markets, diners, doo-wop motels and hotels, and liquor stores flash with as much chrome, gaudy colors, and neon signage as the Las Vegas Strip. Some facilities have even been listed on national registries — probably places like the “Dew Drop Inn” and the “No-Tell Motel.”
Here’s an interesting statistic I found through my exhaustive study on this town. New Jersey state law is very strict on how many liquor licenses my be issued in any given municipality. The limits are: one consumption (bar/restaurant) license for every 3,000 residents and one distribution (liquor store) license for every 7,500 residents. With only 5,500 permanent residents, strict interpretation would require a Wildwoodite to drive to another town for a bottle of wine.
But there is more to the story. There is another goofy state law that allows municipalities to “grandfather” liquor licenses that were on the books prior to 1948. As a result, this cute little family-oriented, decency-first village of 5,500 souls has 61 active liquor licenses. Wow! It seems to me that Chief Long and his posse might have a lot more problems with alcohol-related incidents than folks with droopy drawers.
As an example, just last week in Wildwood, a patrol officer noticed a droopy drawered wino stumbling down the street with his right foot on the curb and his left foot in the gutter. He pulled his car over and said to the guy, “Sir, I’ve got to run you in on a charge of public intoxication.” The wino tottered there still with one foot on the curb and one in the gutter and replied, “Ossifer, are ya absolutely sure I’m drunk?” The cop replied, “Yes, buddy, I’m sure. Now let’s go!” Obviously relieved, the lush said, “Oh, what a relief — I thought I had become crippled.”
Of course, if you are arrested for drunk-and-disorderly conduct in Wildwood and your butt is showing also, you are going under the jail!
Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: