It was a bad situation last year...
Wildwoods officials express a sense of cautious optimism as the weekend approaches, hoping the tragic pop-up car rally of the past won't witness a repeat this year. The rally last year had unsanctioned events that concluded fatally, with multi-car crashes leading to casualties and injuries. With the air of anticipation building up around the weekend, Wildwood police are keeping a close watch on social media for potential signs of similar events resurfacing.
The previous mayor, Pete Byron, who resigned shortly after discussing the city's weekend plans, revealed that the locality is well-prepared to host legal and planned events, including the Fall Custom Rod and Muscle Car Show and the annual Irish Festival. He emphasized the readiness of the officials to deal with any unexpected events and assured that a strong police presence is often sufficient to deter any untoward incidents.
"Last year was marred by fatalities and injuries including a significant collision involving a car and a golf cart on Sept. 25," recalls Byron, stressing the importance of maintaining vigilance to avoid any repeats of such tragic occurrences.
In an effort to fortify the prevention measures, Wildwood officials have introduced a new provision. Police are now empowered to issue cease and desist orders to anyone discovered to be organizing pop-up events through social media. This measure was necessitated by the nature of the ‘Pop-up Rally’, primarily driven by social media, which does not have an organized event promoter, allowing it to occur anywhere and anytime based on online promotions.
Officials in the region have been collaborating, exchanging insights and intelligence with Ocean City, Maryland, officials, where similar spontaneous rallies had been organized in the years preceding the Wildwood rally in 2022. Ocean City has designated the town as a "Special Event Zone" throughout the week, enforcing lowered speed limits and heightened fines for any law infringements.
Despite the potential challenges posed by inclement weather conditions expected over the weekend, with forecasts predicting soaking rain and strong winds along the Jersey Shore, officials are ensuring that law enforcement is poised to manage the influx of visitors and maintain peace during the multiple planned events, including the Wildwood Crest Seafarers Celebration and Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest.
State Police, although not slated to be on duty this weekend, have assured their readiness to step in if the need arises. “The Regional Operations Intelligence Center will be monitoring the event and we stand ready to assist our local partners should they need our assistance,” stated a spokesperson from the State Police.
It is hoped that with meticulous planning, enhanced law enforcement presence, and cooperative weather, the weekend in Wildwoods will unfold smoothly, marked by the enjoyment of the anticipated events without any unfortunate incidents marring the celebrations.