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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Unruly Behavior

By Natalie McDevitt, Reading, Pa.

To the Editor:

I have been coming to Wildwood for 40 years. I work hard all year, save my money, and this is my only indulgence, to which I look forward throughout the year – a little time away at my favorite place, the beach. However, this is the first year that I have seriously considered, on a daily basis since I arrived here about a week ago, if it’s really even worth it to come here anymore. Just about every moment of my vacation has been marred with completely out-of-control behavior by so-called “shoobies.” (And before you assume I’m some “get-off-my-lawn” boomer, I’m actually a millennial myself – except I was raised with morals and respect for others, unlike seemingly anyone else, anymore, who visits this once family-friendly, peaceful island.)

There’s not an activity – from morning until night – that’s not affected negatively by these obnoxious, loud visitors, who seem to think that everyone wants to hear their opinions about everything, wake people up at midnight or later, when they get home from their carousing, listen to their constant vulgarity, overhear all their pointless and incessant phone conversations, or be in the background for the endless TikTok or Instagram reels they seem to constantly be filming.

It’s no wonder, or surprise, that the area has recently been in the news for all bad publicity only. It’s because none of the unruly behavior overtaking seemingly every space on the island is being nipped in the bud by anyone. Instead, everyone only keeps turning a blind eye to all of it, until someone gets beaten up or groups of teens get so large that part of the boardwalk needs to be shut down. How long until there’s a stabbing here or worse? Nothing would surprise me at this point.

I guess this is what selling your soul looks like. There has to be a less totally demoralizing way to run a town that bases its whole livelihood on tourism, other than continuing to appease totally wild, out-of-control, inappropriate, disrespectful behavior from all ends. I have a few solutions that I think are reasonable, feasible, and doable.

First, I think there should be about a block of beach roped off every mile or so to be designated as a “quiet” zone – no kids, no rowdy groups of teenagers, no music, no ball-playing, and definitely no alcohol or drug use. Only those who want to enjoy a quiet day of sunbathing, or reading, or sleeping would be permitted in these zones.

How would this be policed? That brings into play the second part of my solution. I haven’t been to the Phillies’ stadium in a long while, but the last time I went, they were just introducing a program I assume they still utilize, which is like a 911 number inside the stadium. If someone around you is getting unruly, you simply text to this number the section in which you’re sitting, and security personnel responds in a timely fashion. In this case, there should be a number available to all sections of the beach to report unruly behavior. There should be a police officer assigned to each town each day during all beach hours to constantly patrol and respond to any texts he or she may receive from that number.

I seriously hope the mayor considers these concerns and solutions presented. Otherwise, before long, no self-respecting person will want to spend their hard-earned money to come here anymore.

NATALIE MCDEVITT

Wildwood and Reading, Pa.

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