Ocean City chaos: Leaders poised to alter curfew, other rules aimed at reining in rowdy teens

Big changes are coming to Ocean City, following a Memorial Day weekend of chaos from unruly teenagers. City leaders are trying to make sure trouble doesn’t continue into the summer with a new curfew, among other proposals.

Ocean City officials described a wild, raucous Memorial Day weekend where police and EMS fielded nearly 1,000 calls, many surrounding unruly teens.

"The sheer number of individuals was alarming," stated Ocean City Police Chief, Jay Prettyman. "We had an increase in fights. We had eight juveniles that were unconscious due to alcohol that we had to take to the hospital. We had weapons offenses."

"You can’t even move on the boardwalk near 12th Street. There is just like a pile of them, everywhere. Everywhere," Cassie Mills described the large groups of teens.

The chaos forced city leaders to announce big changes to keep peace this summer, beginning with an 11 p.m. curfew for kids under 18 and backpacks on the boardwalk will be banned between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.

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The measures are expected to pass in time for Father’s Day weekend.

Beginning Thursday night, the beaches are closed at 8 p.m. All boardwalk bathrooms will close at 10 p.m. after an attendant was assaulted during the holiday.

"All of us need to look in the mirror and take responsibility," Ocean City Mayor, Jay Gillian said. "This isn’t a kid thing, this is us. We are adults. We got gray hair. And, we have to promote and educate, but we also have to hold accountability."

Hatboro resident, Frank Visco, remarked, "I know they are having problems down here, but you can’t even have a bag. It seems kind of strict."

Some boardwalk businesses wonder how a new curfew will affect their summer bottom line. Manager of Annie Ann’s, Tyler Cooper, said, "I think the curfew would hurt businesses because Annie Ann’s, that’s where most of our sales come from is the teenagers. They come off the beaches and they all want pretzels."

Officials blame a change in state law two years ago that put limits on how police can enforce juvenile cases. Some state lawmakers are hoping to change that law sooner rather than later.

"We can’t afford to have the reputation of America’s greatest family resort damaged beyond repair and that is what will happen if we continue to allow anarchy on boardwalks and our beaches," stated state Senator Michael Testa.