July 26, 2023
Wildwood soon may require teenagers to head home earlier at night. A proposed ordinance going up for a vote before the city commissioners Wednesday night would require anyone under 18 to be indoors by midnight, an hour earlier than the current juvenile curfew of 1 a.m.
The curfew change was proposed earlier this month in response to unruly behavior exhibited by crowds of teens around the Fourth of July holiday. The proposed ordinance cites one incident in which more than 60 teens were "engaging in widespread acts of rioting and criminal mischief" well into the early morning hours.
Under the ordinance, any gathering of 10 or more minors in a public space during curfew hours would constitute a breach of the peace.
Juveniles caught violating the curfew would be issued two curbside warnings before police would have the option of detaining them and summoning their parents for a stationhouse adjustment, an alternative to criminal proceedings. The parents of curfew violators could face fines of $2,000 or up to 90 days in jail.
If passed, Wildwood curfew would take effect immediately.
Wildwood joins a growing list of shore towns that are reconsidering their curfews in the wake of disruptive and unruly behavior by large groups of minors. In June, Ocean City imposed an 11 p.m. curfew for minors and banned backpacks from the boardwalk after 8 p.m. in response to mayhem during Memorial Weekend that included underage drinking, vandalism, assaults, shoplifting and the confiscation of a gun. Sea Isle City and Seaside Heights also enacted new curfews for minors this year. Statewide, 32 shore towns have some kind of curfew in place that limits how late juveniles can be out unaccompanied by adults, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In May, Wildwood passed a separate ordinance banning all alcoholic beverages from the city's beaches and boardwalk, regardless of whether the container is open. At the same time, the city passed another ordinance that designates underage drinking a "breach of peace" that can result in arrest and detention.