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Seaside Heights' Troubles Predate MTV Fame

Seaside Heights was in trouble long before Snooki slithered into town

What a difference 51 summers can make.

A faded, pink-tinged  available on YouTube bears little resemblance to the Seaside Heights of today.

The beaches and boardwalks are full of families. Women and teenagers for the most part wore one-piece bathing suits. The more daring wore modest two-piece suits. No sunburned rumps split by thongs, no men who shouldn't be wearing Speedos wearing Speedos. No gold chains.

"Everywhere young people can be seen enjoying each other," the moderator chortles, as the film zeroes in on a wholesome young couple chatting on the beach.

Now fast forward to .

"Seaside Heights| *Stabbing*| Sheridan Ave & Boardwalk| Monoc 1 is transporting a 28 y/o male to jersey shore trauma who has a large stab wound to the left chest. Victim has been intubated."

That terse message from the Breaking News Network flashed across Patch computer screens on that night. Others preceded it. "A large fight... pepper spray...."

But Seaside Heights has had its problems long before into the land of "Sun and Fun," aka Seaside Heights,  and long before the two — count them — two in the last .

Back in the mid-1980s, frantic residents flocked to Borough Council meetings. They would plead with then-Mayor George E. Tompkins and council members to do something about the people urinating out of windows of rented "animal houses," fornicating on front lawns, spilling out of bars onto the Boulevard in the early morning hours and using language unfit for childrens' ears on the boardwalk.

Tompkins would listen patiently, sigh, then pretty much tell them it was the price to pay for living in a .

But that never made much sense. is flanked by and , two tidy towns that look more like Cape Cod than Ocean County.

Granted, Seaside Heights has amusements, rides and games of chance. But it also has something the other two towns don't have. It has 22 places — including nightclubs, bars and package good stores — to buy liquor in a borough little more than one square mile in area.

Current Mayor P. Kenneth Hershey has been mayor since 1990. That's the year he beat Tompkins in the mayoral race, after the state Commission of Investigation issued a scathing report on the borough's financial practices.

Hershey and the council began cracking down on absentee landlords, fining them when police calls to their properties added up. There was a concerted effort to resurrect Seaside's reputation as a family resort.

But given the events of the last few weeks, it apparently . It's not a secret that many boardwalk businesses — not just the bars — hire off-duty cops or security guards for protection.

The Seaside Tourism Bureau is still cranking out public relations announcements that sound like that long-ago 1960s promotional film.

"Seaside Heights is the perfect combination of your childhood memories and your next great family vacation. We're bring Seaside to new Heights."

MIC June 01, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Somebody needs to flip the trashcans! Meaning things need to be changed big time to attract the crowd that everyone doesn’t mind and deter the crowd that doesn’t belong in seaside heights. Let them go to A/C or other places where their behavior can be dealt with. Instead of constantly promoting seaside as a big party resort, it needs to be promoted as a family vacation spot again. With all the efforts to clean up seaside and the bay, I believe this would help that effort. Shorten the length of time a bar can be open and allow them to buy event permits or extended hour permits to operate for additional hours after 2am. Have the price on this permit be high enough to benefit the town and also deter abuse from local bars/pubs. Maybe if more money would be coming in from then you could back down the parking police, because after last weekend its way out of control. Maybe they should also encourage the use of golf carts and mopeds to deter all the traffic from the constant overflow of cars. Increase the penalties for minor crimes committed while acting like a drunken idiot. What it all comes down to is the town wont change because it can make it work as is, it’s going to take alot of effort and the town won’t do it.
MIC June 01, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Also Seaside Park needs to back it down a notch; the town was a ghost town after 1100 pm this weekend. Why would anyone want to go there? I do because I’m a local but how much tourist money are they really bringing in? Parking meters at 12 ave, that was a great idea! Many stupid ideas have been passed, way to easy over there. There’s also no reason why both towns can’t work together to better the outcome for both. That’s all I got for now
Tired of the status quo June 01, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Here is an idea. How about we hold the parents of these kids responsible for the action of their children. By this statement I mean the parents who are renting hotel rooms for their children to come down here after proms. Some of these kids are coming down here with a few things in mind booze and sex. Next there should be some kind of dress code up there. No, running around with the cheeks of their butts or their boobs barely being covered, guys running around with their shorts down around their knees so we can see what color and brand of boxers that they are wearing. Not allow the hanging of bandannas out of peoples back pockets or around their heads to show off what gang they belong to. Also, lets keep dog collars on dogs and not people. And, last but not least lets not only hold the police responsible for doing the job that they are getting paid for i.e. protecting all of the people of Seaside Heights regardless of what gender, race and, religion you may happen to be, lets also hold the property owners responsible for who and what they rent their homes, apartments and hotel rooms to. Lets bring back personal responsibility and making excuses for everyone.
Colleen June 01, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Several years ago a lot of money was spent promoting Seaside as a place for family. Then the town sold their souls by allowing MTV to bring out of town trash to the beach. Unfortunately MTV didn't take their trash with them when they left. In addition to selling their souls they tarnish all residents of New Jersey because everyone believes the white trash of "Jersey Shore" are from New Jersey. WE LOVE VISITORS TO OUR BEACHES AND THE "DECENT" REVENUE THEY BRING BUT PLEASE LEAVE YOUR TRASH AT HOME AND IF YOU DO BRING IT HERE MAKE SURE YOU TAKE HOME WITH YOU.
Tired of the status quo June 01, 2011 at 12:13 PM
Let us not forget that some of this "trash" that you are referring to lives in this town all year long. I do agree that there are those "silly" people who believe that Snookie and her merry band of fools all came from NJ but, remember that NJ does have their own fill of these fools. There was another time in the 1990's when MTV came to Seaside Heights if my memory serves me correctly it was called "Summer Beach House" and there wasn't as much trouble with those people as there is with Snookie and her crew. When I look back I see one thing and that is the derogation of our society that is to blame for a lot of the problems that not only plagues Seaside Heights but, the rest of the United States as well as many other parts of the world. Perhaps if some of these people took a look in the mirror they would see how foolish they and their peers really look.
BN June 01, 2011 at 12:30 PM
I saw a news story on TV several years ago. Kids drunk in public in Florida for spring break we arrested, put in a holding cell, then required to pick up garbage along the roads the next morning. Sounds like a good idea for SSP. They need stricter penalties/fines for landlords who allow renters under 21, and fail to enforce occupancy limits. No more party houses. End section 8 housing too. Entitlements have to stop.
disgusted June 01, 2011 at 02:10 PM
Unfortunately, as long as there are bars every 20 ft and they are open until 5am you are going to have this. Most of the people who come to this town are already partying and drunk from another bar that closed at 2 from somewhere else. Normal people come into this town for vacation and turn into animals. I see it everyday all summer long for 15 years. They think there are no rules, and they can do whatever they want. They use my lawn as a garbage dump for beer bottles, I have numerous people, even girls peeing in my yard! Yelling at the top of their lungs at 4am walking in front of my house, car stereos blasting so loud my walls shake. One guy begged me to let him park in my driveway because they busted his windshield on a brand new car. Its a shame. The sad fact is is that as long as there is alcohol everywhere this will continue. They are catering to drunks and party people, not families.
dhhex June 01, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I agree on several points with previous posters. Section 8 housing should not be in an area you promote to tourists. There is a lot of drug and gang activity down there. Tougher penalty's for offenders are needed and the sale of alcohol should be minimized. Leave the liquor license to a few responsible bar owners that also serve food and are actually there running their business. Take control of the rental industries down there and hold renters responsible as to whom they rent to. Fine them for disturbances that their renters cause. Enforce curb appeal regulations. And even though you can't really tell people how to dress, some decency rules must be upheld. Bare bum is not really what I need to see going to Seaside. Appoint a board that organizes ( in conjunction with business owners) daytime and after hour events that appeal to a more family oriented, mature and classy crowd. Raise the prices on hard liquor and shut down the liquor stores in the area. Also, invest in cameras. And get rid of some of the “slum” establishments that around there.........I had to give an estimate once for a repair in one of the motels and I can tell you I had to go home and take a shower after entering that place. It was so scummy. Talk to the neighboring beach towns, what can they recommend to change things in Seaside?
NJFL June 01, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Until you get rid of the welfare in that town you'll never clean it up. It a shame that we continue to allow our youth to be influenced by the images which are projected not only by the media (ex: Jersey Shore), however we also allow them to journey to such venues like the boardwalk where this show is filmed. While I agree with the article in that the problems existed long before this show, I just don't see how allowing this show to continuously film on the boardwalk is helping to clean the town up. There are solutions to make the town safer and more enjoyable for families yet we need to do just that, make it more family oriented. Much of the violence which occurs in the summer is due to the lower class of some (not all) of the residents of Seaside Heights. Until we find a way to remove this element, I'll be sticking to Point Pleasant Boardwalk for my overpriced cheese steaks and funnel cake.
Billabong June 01, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Everyone has a personal responsibility to act like a human being and not an animal but MTV sure does seem to breed trouble. I was in Belmar in 1992 when the MTV Sports Festival resulted in police in riot gear being called in to quiet the trash that was fighting, throwing bottles, and damaging cars. The problem is a generation of kids who think they're tough and feel the need to show off their faux toughness. Years ago when we had a beef, we settled it with our hands. Kids nowadays are packing guns, knives, and other weapons. Idiots with weapons is a recipe for disaster.
M&R June 01, 2011 at 03:35 PM
I am so sick of the crap already and summer just began. I have lived in Toms River my whole life and moved to Seaside 10 years ago to be on the water and I'm ready to move again. This weekend was the worse in years. We had a 13 year old girl drunk up our road that came from a hotel and where were her parents. We called the cops on a car full of New yorkers smoking crack in their car two houses up from us. I remember when we came here as a kid if your music in the car was to loud you got a ticket not now, some of these kids have such elaborate systems that they had my windows shake. Seaside use to be a fun place, now it seems to be all gangs, drugs or section 8 maybe the jails need to stop dumping there crap here and the rest of the crap will stop following. Maybe its time that the residents of Seaside vote for a new Mayor that will clean up this crap whole or let the state take over and clean it up.
. June 01, 2011 at 07:47 PM
A lot of the responsibility is on the owners of motels and houses that get rented out. It is these people that only care about a dollar and will rent to anyone who can pay it regardless of the consequences. People that own homes that live in them have to suffer because of this. Remember when Seaside Heights was a ghost town in the winter. No one rented out their homes until the summer came along and then they were rented to families, usually the sames ones every year. Now they rent out to welfare recipients all winter and that riff raff stays during the summer too. Seaside Heights was once the place to go with beautiful beaches and the greatest boardwalk around. You can't blame MTV and the Jersey Shore crew for all of Seaside Hts' troubles. This year the Jersey Shore isn't even there. Close the bars earlier and stop renting out to the dregs of society. Clean up the town and let families enjoy what could be a beautiful vacation spot again.
walter June 02, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Lifelong resident here & very impressed by and in agreement with many of the comments so far. Yes this past Memorial weekend was atrocious, with police and fire and first aid sirens going every minute of the Saturday overnight, and in the morning the town literally smelled of garbage, vomit, unwashed clothing, dog mess - you get the idea. My belief is that the economic partnership between MTV and the town council/mayor is wholly responsible for the rapid degradation, in only two years, of Seaside. It is much, MUCH worse, thanks largely to the embarrassing television show - and now completely non-family friendly. Has anyone even seen Mayor Ken Hershey in recent years? Do they bring him out and prop him in a chair at public meetings, a la Weekend at Bernies? What has he accomplished for the town, other than lining his pockets and filling his ghetto hotel with welfare recipients and criminals? Seaside desperately needs new management. Observe what Ken Pringle did for Belmar - reclaiming it from equally disgusting animal-house drunkathon back to family family resort with year round residents, neat shops and restaurants, fun bars full of only-normally misbehaving kids, well maintained beach and boards, etc. In comparison, Seaside Heights is like Haiti. Wanted: new mayor and council.
suz June 02, 2011 at 01:56 AM
well said....
SouthernBelle June 02, 2011 at 06:42 AM
Thank you John, and very possible that the pen users are worse. I was once stabbed by one of those pen users. Literally. And with a pen!. They would never use the gang preferred knife. . It's heavy duty drugs, people in the clubs that sell them and the clubs who allow it. It's the higher ups and the people running the town. I've seeen some of the people who work the stands rob the tourists blind, and saw them threaten someone when they said they would call the police. There seems to be something strange about who they will arrest and whom they will let go. Huge problem is (The Trash Owners) THE WELFARE PEOPLE. That's where much of the drug trafficking comes from too. We won't call them the dealers though. They're the poor and unfortunate addicts that know where to come for drugs, I guess. With poor tatttered little children. . And the people who run the town are only interested in lining their pockets, raising taxes, water, electric and such. Used to be the Beach closed at around 9:30 P.M. Last couple years people on the Beach and Trashing it all night long. Wish everyone posting here could get together and do something, but, not likely to happen any time soon. Shut down the crummy hotels, and get rid of the Welfare people. How about all those stupid looking, unsold, high up in the air condo's? Who is going to buy?. We are paying high taxes, and who is paying for those buildings? Condolences to the families of those who died in "OUR TOWN"
George M. Lobman June 02, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Everyone knows the reasons and everyone understands the pressures on the local politicians. Keep up the draw and hold down the news coverage. That doesn't change a thing when voting comes around. I have lived here most of my life in Toms River and worked and played in Seaside for many years. There were times when we drank to much and played to hard but the summer time police were all very hard on infractions. In those days to be caught had a direct cause and effect on a big hurt. You would get punished for your actions and then when you get back to school the teachers who were the cops for the summer got you in class again. Those time were great, but now! nothing is the same. You cannot open your mouth or you get shot, you cannot have an argument or you get shot and you can't even look at a girl in a bar or you get shot. Society has changed and its the spare the rod and spoil the child senierio that has caused the problem. The children today are afraid of NOTHING. Unless the next generation are taught differently we will need to go back to sidearms like the wild west.
pam tirado June 02, 2011 at 10:47 PM
Seaside Heights past administrations began making greedy mistakes a very long time ago. Now, unfortunatly for the peaceable and well bred residents of the town...I believe all is lost. Sell what you have to the condo developers and find a safe decent place to live. The boardwalk merchants should never utter a complaint...it's thier greed coupled with the politicos that have brought the town to the brink of complete distruction. I remember Seaside from my childhood and teenage years when the Casino was a dance hall....it was wonderful. In that era people still had selfrespect, and this common behavior wasn't tolerated for any price. You know what they say..."Ya plant potatos, Ya get potatos"!
Mary E Rowlands June 03, 2011 at 01:59 AM
They need to take everyone on a day trip to Sea Girt. What an attractive town. Or do like Giuliani did. Do not get a f--t caught crooked or it will cost you. Quality of life crimes. Get a code and several code enforcement officers. Send out the warning letters. Then do the fines, jail time or what ever it takes. Create civic pride[aka as competitiveness & jealousy & trying to outdo one another] by creating tax breaks for cleaning up or otherwise making attractive a property. This has been this way since the 80's. I would take my son there for a day trip but be sure to leave before the pub crawlers came out.
SouthernBelle June 03, 2011 at 03:10 AM
PLEASE EXCUSE' THE CAPS. I CAN'T SEE ANYMORE, AND THEY ARE SO MUCH EASIER ON THE EYES THIS WAY. I WAS THINKING THAT ALL THE POSTERS AND OTHERS WHO WANT TO BE HEARD COULD GO TO THE MEETINGS. I DON'T GO TO MEETINGS, OR I WOULD BE IMPRISONED, IF YOU GET MY DRIFT. NOT THE CRIMINALS AND MURDERERS, NOT THE PROPERTY TRESPASSERS, NOT THE DRUNKS, BUT I WOULD. BECAUSE I WOULD BE THE LOUDEST, AND I WOULD NEVER STOP BASHING MANY OF THE CULPRITS MENTIONED HERE, AND YES, MS TIRADO, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT ABOUT THE BOARDWALK PEOPLE AND POLITICOS. THEY ARE THE MAIN CULPRITS ALONG WITH THE HOTEL/MOTEL AND CLUB OWNERS. THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO NEED TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER. WOULD BE KIND OF DIFFICULT TO SELL ANYTHING NOW, SO GUESS MANY OF US ARE STUCK. HOWEVER, IF ALL OF YOU ARE TRULY INTERESTED IN "OUR TOWN", THEN MAYBE EACH OF YOU SHOULD LET THE COUNCIL PEOPLE, MAYOR, AND TOMS RIVER PEOPLE KNOW BY PRINTING OUT THE LIST OF THESE POSTINGS, AND MAILING THEM OUT. HAVE YOUR FRIENDS POST AND DO SAME. THERE ARE ONLY FEW POSTS HERE AND THERE SHOULD BE MANY MORE. TRY IT. LET'S SEE IF WE CAN DO SOMETHING. MAIL OVER AND OVER, AND LIKE M. ROWLANDS SUGGESTED, TAX BREAKS FOR PEOPLE FROM TOWN WHO HELP CLEAN UP, KEEP WATCH, (WITHOUT PUTTING THEMSELVES IN DANGER), AND MAYBE FREE SEASON BADGES FOR VOLUNTEERS. THERE MUST BE PLENTY WE CAN ALL DO TO SAVE OUR "FUN IN THE SUN" COMMUNITY. ANYONE GAME FOR IT? COME BACK AND POST IF YOU REC. THIS IN YOUR EMAIL. PLEEEEZE. MAYBE WE CAN DO IT!
just me June 06, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Lot's of sensible recommendations here -- I hope the decision makers are reading this!!
theresa June 12, 2011 at 08:28 AM
Everyone has such good ideas, but will any of them work. I have lived in Toms River for 26 years. I use to go to seaside in the late 80's when people just cruised the Blvd. listening to music/disco. Music that we could actually understand. Anyway it is a complete mess. You have the Welfare there all winter and summer. Than you have the NY errs. It is a disgrace to see that place now on the weekends. I can't even bring my kids there anymore. I have to go to Point and oh boy my 15 year old just loves the rides there. Not!!! Anyway there needs to be more Security/ Cops walking around, there needs to be more tickets/arrest. If these trouble makers know that they might be fined or thrown in Jail for the night maybe they just might think twice before doing something really stupid. IDK all I could say is with Snookie and her crew there nothing is going to go right. They are trouble them selves. I will go and Volunteer there let me hand out tickets and make Citizens arrest. You will see it get cleaned up real fast. You will be able to take your kids there in no time. Good Luck Seaside!!!! I hope you get cleaned up this Summer :)
Bobbielyn Harrsch August 12, 2011 at 07:47 AM
there are some very good points here, but also some missed construed ones. Welfare is not a problem here in Seaside, each of you say that in the 80's it as so much better, and yes it was. I have some news for you though, Welfare has been in Seaside since the 60-70's. What has caused the downfall has been MTV beach house in the 80's as well as adding all the parolee's and probation people. In the 90's people getting released from jail fought for housing eligibility, and they got added to the Welfare rolls, thus the belief that Welfare came then. You have Pedophiles, sex offenders and gang members all placed into housing in Seaside. Add to that the Party place attitude that started with the first MTV beach house, bringing the 'Spring break " mentality with it and of course the town will go down hill. Most of your Welfare family's used to get jobs for the summer on the boardwalk, thus you did not see them "hanging out', but then the employers found the cheaper labor of foreigners, and what welfare reform there has been has made it harder to get off of assistance, stricter penalties for working , loss of child care if you get a job for minimum wage, part time, not enough to support yourself never mind a family. Add all of this together and you have Seaside Heights of today.
patricia small June 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I remember well the summer of 1960, and Seaside Hts was wonderful. But then so was Elizabeth, my birthplace, which horrifies me now. People, wake up, the US culture has changed, and we are looking more like Brazil, central America, Haiti. NY 'ers came then too, but they were a better class with decent manners.. Voting probably won't help anymore, because you need great NUMBERS of people for confrontation to be successful. And who will teach all these invading people any manners and class? Stabbings will progress to beheadings and no uncorrupt police at all.
Jay Gee June 29, 2012 at 07:23 PM
So true all you say, but, The leaders do not care. They are money grubbing pigs, and the owners pay out more and more in electric, water, taxes, etc., but in return they get disgusting mostly weekenders, and welfare all winter long and summer. Nothing going to be done about it either. I stay at a friends place quite a bit in summer and a cousin's also. yup, they've seen it go way down the tubes. NO HOPE...New Mayor, but, who knows if it'll just make it worse. He's probably of the same Regime as the rest of the crew. Too bad. What a nice place it could be. Nope, no more manners, no more class. Just crud, crud, and more crud, drug addicts, welfare deadbeats, and corrupt leadership and police. VERY CORRUPT POLICE...Not all I'm sure, but most.
Jay Gee June 29, 2012 at 07:26 PM
It's not the "Jersey Shore" crew, although they do cause some commotion, they don't bring in what's been coming to the shore on weekends. Not at all. The Drug Dealers with the gold chains bring the disgusting, fighting, screaming, cursing, filthy people to Seaside.

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