Bleeding Jersey Pride



From growing up in Point Pleasant Beach to moving to Long Branch, I think it’s time for a real Jersey Shore perspective. Year after year, I have watched as tourists come on Memorial Day and leave on Labor Day.  Every day in between is spent navigating littered streets and walking underneath the lingering aroma of hairspray.  All of a sudden, there were lines to get into the mall and restaurants, driving anywhere with my family was a mess, and just crossing the street became difficult.  Tourists would throw parties on the beach, leaving behind broken glass bottles and aluminum cans, cigarette butts, and food for the seagulls.  It was the summer, not real life, some saw it as: you can get away with anything.  But people cried tourism, so these things were overlooked.  The then $10 billion plus stream of revenue that tourism brought in helped local stores and communities thrive in the summer.

But after Labor Day, when everyone went back to their own towns and cities to go back to school and work, the beaches became quieter and the streets slowly got cleaner.  My town became a nice, inhabitable place once again.  I was allowed to walk along the boardwalk by myself again.  (During high tourist season, as a kid, my parents didn’t like to let me walk around alone because it was too dangerous, “you never know who those outsiders are”, etc.)  And that’s how tourists were viewed: as outsiders. Trouble-making outsiders, if you listened to my parents and their age group.

Benny Patrol

The Benny Go Home movement can be traced back as early as the late 1970s, when Benny Go Home stickers started popping up everywhere.  Benny is the local slang for tourists from New York and North Jersey who come down to the beaches in the summer, not just the cities named in the acronym. Aside from just trashy tourists, the Benny Go Home campaigns against corrupt cases of eminent domain and supports local businesses.  After all, how does tourism help us in the winter, when they say it’s too cold to go to the beach?  In the past decade or so, the Benny Go Home movement has had a startling revival, coinciding with the increase of reality shows that take place at the Jersey Shore.  Film crews, hair and makeup, and reality stars (who aren’t even from New Jersey, let alone the Jersey Shore), are brought in to “rep the Jersey Shore”.  They’ve started boardwalk brawls, been cited for public indecency, public intoxication, and the list goes on.  This is not what we want to represent us to our nation and the world.  Even now, when I say I’m from Ocean County, people ask if it’s anything like MTV.  The Benny Go Home movement is more about reclaiming the land that we’ve lost to these outsiders rather than kicking out visitors.

It’s never too cold to go to the beach when the beach is your home.

One last thing, it’s not the shore, it’s the beach.

– Suzanne Lee


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