Enforced Sobriety

Lynette Dufton
2 min readJun 2


The ocean water temperature at the Jersey Shore last weekend was 63 degrees. Adults immersed in water at that temperature will die of hypothermia in about 2 hours. Children may last as little as 15 minutes. “Those tan lines seem tinged with blue and gangrene appears to be growing on your toes. Better get out of the water.”

Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands flocked to the Jersey Shore to celebrate Memorial Day. They chose between the hedonism of Seaside Heights (home of MTV’s “Jersey Shore”) and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, “America’s Greatest Family Beach Resort”, Ocean City. Ocean City, NJ has a boardwalk, amusement park rides, and everything you could want at the beach but it very specifically has no bars or liquor stores. The Methodist church founded O.C. back in the 19th century as a “sober alternative” to that drunken revelry at Atlantic City. Methodists didn’t drink back in those days which probably explains why so many of them made it to church on Sunday morning.

As the rest of the Jersey Shore developed, it followed Atlantic City’s lead. Bars abounded. Would Bruce Springsteen have become Bruce Springsteen if not for Asbury Park? Ocean City remained a citadel of sobriety.

Until Memorial Day Weekend 2023. Police responded to nearly 1,000 calls for vandalism, assault, theft, and underage drinking. Ocean City jails overflowed.

That may be “business as usual” at Seaside Heights but not at “America’s Greatest Family Beach Resort”. The Mayor issued an order closing all beaches at 8 PM, closing boardwalk bathrooms at 10 PM, applying a 10 PM curfew to minors unaccompanied by adults, and banning backpacks after 8 PM.

What’s wrong with backpacks? Kids wear them to Kindergarten for heaven’s sake. Apparently, kids also stash their booze in them before hanging out at the O.C. beach and boardwalk.

Closing boardwalk bathrooms at 10 PM will certainly minimize late night carousing. It’s tough to carouse with a painfully-full bladder.

Those 19th century Methodists would be proud that their tradition of enforced sobriety is maintained.

By Ed Dufton



Lynette Dufton

These posts are written by my father, Ed Dufton, who has an incredible knack of condensing the day’s news into a witty and insightful commentary on society.