By: David Madden, Elizabeth Hur
WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Wearing your pants too low in Wildwood is about to get expensive.
The shore town has passed a law banning overly saggy pants with fines ranging from $25 to $200.
Robert Henderson calls Wildwood home and enjoys dressing however he wishes on a summer night in what is essentially his backyard.
Henderson said, “You should have the freedom to do what you want on a beach.”
The problem is what he considers his “freedom”, some find offensive.
Reggie Byrne of Wildwood explained, “There’s a big difference between freedom of expression and indecent exposure.”
Mary Erceg, also of Wildwood added, “What are you trying to say? It’s just not understandable, it just offends.”
Wildwood Commisisoners and Mayor Ernie Troiano agree. The vote was unanimous and in the name of decency and safety, they passed a new city ordinance. According to the new law, when on Wildwood’s boardwalk:
-Shoes or flip-flops must be worn at all times.
-A shirt must be on after 8 pm until 5 the next morning.
-Pants , swim shorts, and skirts must not hang more than 3 inches past the person’s waist.
“We’re not trying to set the world on fire here. We’re just trying to give a little bit better appearance to the public about what the city of Wildwood is,” said Troiano.
The mayor maintains from emails to calls, the feedback so far has been mostly positive.
Troiano explained, “We just want you to take into consideration, if you have family or elderly people or people who just don’t want to look at your rear end, just have a little decency. Just pull your pants up.”
However, Anthony Kordich of Kingston, NY questioned, “How come they can tell you how to dress? It’s a public place, I don’t understand that.”
Opponents don’t like what they’re hearing, neither does Henderson but he understands rules are rules.
Henderson said, “Yea I have to because if not, I don’t feel like going to the big house.”
Police will first ask violators to comply with the law. Barring that, they’ll be asked to leave the boardwalk. Refuse – and tickets are issued.
We’re told jail time is possible but the mayor says, it is his hope that it never gets that far.
“We don’t want anybody to be asked to leave the boardwalk, we don’t want anybody to receive a ticket. If he wants to be a thug and say, ‘Don’t tell me what to do’, then he will be asked to leave and then it’s in his ballpark. You can become a real wise guy and wind up taking a trip to jail or you can get a ticket,” Troiano said.
The proposed law would set fines of $25 to $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses.
Having to do community service is also a possibility. The law is set to go into effect during the 4th of July weekend.