BERNARDS — For nearly 30 years, some residents of and visitors to this Somerset County town have worried that being upset about something could actually result in a fine.

But a move made by Bernards Township Committee this month should put those worries to rest.

Frowning is not illegal in Bernards, according to a resolution that was approved on Dec. 12. And officials want folks to know that it never really was.

"It would be a gross violation of the First Amendment," Mayor Andrew McNally said during the committee meeting.

The new resolution is in response to numerous online articles that indicate that it is illegal to frown in town.

The confusion dates back to a resolution passed in 1995, the township says. The idea to declare Bernards as a "Frown-Free Town Zone" began with a student Ridge High School.

According to officials, the resolution was meant to encourage residents and visitors to embrace positivity. It was only applicable for that year, officials said, and it was not intended to infringe on personal freedoms.

"While we hope you don't have any reason to frown, you are, of course, free to do so," McNally said.

The new resolution is meant to clarify the rules for everyone. Officials say the town respects and welcomes free expression, and that includes frowning.

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