What should Ocean City do next year with the traditional pop-up rally weekend?
This is the question after a no show from the troublemakers this year on the heels of last year’s quiet weekend. Though it merits attention and consideration, a decision is not necessary today.
Ocean City deserves praise for its approach to the pop-up rally. The regional partnership between government and law enforcement should be emulated by other areas because it clearly worked. The concept of discouraging visitors to the resort for this one weekend and creating rules to make it miserable for the pop-up rally offenders worked. Massive fines, zero tolerance for infractions, quick towing calls and road alterations accomplished what they set out to do – discourage the people from coming to town who wanted to raise hell on our local streets and disrespect our beautiful beach resort.
It’s clear from social media observations the young culprits who were bent on disrespecting Ocean City for many years have moved on. The scenes that played out in Wildwood, N.J. last weekend were nearly identical to what took place in Ocean City for several years, especially in 2020 when police were unable to control the chaos of vehicles overtaking roads with burnouts, dozens of people dressed as bananas stopping traffic, fireworks being set off in the median, officers being threatened and assaulted, businesses vandalized and tremendous littering.
Ocean City officials, legislative leaders and their allied agencies should be credited for getting rid of this social media-driven gathering. New Jersey folks need to follow Ocean City’s strategy and implement a similar crackdown. It was remarkable to watch the videos of what unfolded in Wildwood last weekend. It was the exact nonsense that took place here for many years.
Moving ahead, the easy track to take is to simply keep the special event zone in place next year in Ocean City to be safe. We do not see it as a simple call. Government must be aware of its expenditures and be responsible with resources. There are overtime costs associated, allied agency support complexities and the city needs to be able to balance responsiveness with responsibility.
We think the right strategy would be to monitor social media heavily for activity in the months leading up to the traditional weekend. If the trend continues away from Ocean City, we encourage the city to drop the special event zone aspect or at a minimum seek flexibility as far as implementation. There is a way to do this in a responsible fashion.