Jenkinson’s gives girls VIP treatment after ‘shopping while black’ incident
POINT PLEASANT BEACH — It’s a summer they’ll remember.
A group of black girls were treated like princesses by the management of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and Aquarium just a few weeks after they were booted from a gift shop by a worker who treated them like trash.
The company fired the cashier earlier this month after she was caught on video telling the girls from a Paterson summer camp that they were “not welcome.” The camp's leader accused the woman of racially profiling the group.
The incident caused an uproar against the popular Jersey Shore attraction. And while some came to the cashier’s defense — questioning whether the children were misbehaving, even though there was no evidence to back that — Jenkinson’s conducted its own investigation and fired the woman four days later, extending an invitation to the camp to come back.
The Princess to Queenz group accepted the invite and returned last week, getting VIP passes to the rides, a behind-the-scenes tour, goodie bags and a personal welcome from owner Pat Storino and Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid.
“It’s a Great day when the owner of the Jenkinson’s Aquarium and @jenksboardwalk wants to make amends, apologize in person AND treat the girls (& their parents) to a free FUN DAY at the beach!!” camp organizer Attiyya Barrett shared on Facebook. “Life deals lemons all day...it’s up to you what you make with them! Thank you for making things right!”
Of the 40 girls, ages 6 to 14, who went on the original Jenkinson’s trip on Aug. 10, 30 of them were making their first trip from North Jersey to the Jersey Shore.
The experience was marred by the incident at the gift shop.
Barrettt said a small group of girls entered the store and were told by the cashier to leave because they did not have a chaperone. When the girls returned with a 32-year-old woman, the cashier told them to leave again.
Shortly after, Barrett questioned the cashier on video, asking her why they can't be in the shop.
“I didn’t think she was a chaperone,” the cashier replies. “They are not welcome in here.”
Barrett said she did not initially think the incident was racially motivated until the woman said the girls were not welcome when they returned to the store.
After New Jersey 101.5 and other media reported on the video, Jenkinson’s suspended the worker, later terminating her. The woman has not returned requests for comment.
"Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated at Jenkinson’s," the amusement company said in a statement that announced the worker’s suspension. "We strive to provide all of our customers with an enjoyable experience and we clearly missed the mark this time.”
According to Barrett, the “do over” trip was far more enjoyable.
"Forgiveness is an important thing,” Mayor Reid was quoted as saying by the Asbury Park Press. “Having pride in yourself is important. I wanted them to know Point Pleasant Beach welcomes them at any time. This is their home.”
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.