Local beaches, fireworks, lottery & casinos: What’s still open during NJ shutdown
JERSEY CITY —You can still gamble and see fireworks in New Jersey during the state government shutdown.
And while Island Beach State Park and state campsites are closed, local beaches (which are the vast majority along the Jersey Shore) and federal parks, including Sandy Hook, will remain open amid Gov. Christie's executive order shutting down non-essential government services after the state Assembly failed to pass a budget by midnight on Saturday.
Government will remain closed until the Legislature can hammer out a budget deal. Lawmakers were expected to resume work Saturday morning.
The New Jersey Lottery will still sell tickets as usual and Atlantic City's casinos are open. The state lost millions in revenue during the 2006 shutdown and both were upgraded to "essential" status for subsequent shutdowns.
The sixth executive order of Christie’s first term declared employees of the New Jersey Gaming Commission to be considered as essential personnel. The order said that the state lost $1 million a day during the 2006 shutdown when casinos were closed.
State Police and the National Guard are still on call and patrolling as usual. The Safety Service Patrols offering roadside emergency assistance on 225 miles New Jersey's interstate highways.
NJ Transit rail, bus and light rail services are all running as usual during the shutdown and all stations are open.
Island Beach State Park and other state beaches are closed by the shutdown but local beaches remain open. The beaches at Sandy Hook, which is part of the Gateway National Park Recreation Area, are also open.
"We used social media to let everyone know our beach is open because this is a big weekend and there are a lot of people who don't know they need to distinguish between a state beach and a local beach, especially people who from out of state who might think it's one big beach or park system," Seaside Heights Administrator Christopher Vaz told New Jersey 101.5.
The New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway are also operating normally with all service areas. The travel and tourism information areas, however, will not be staffed. The rest areas on I-295 in Deepwater, Salem County and on I-80 in Knowlton, Warren County, will be closed, however.
Fireworks displays are run by municipalities and will go on as scheduled, including Tuesday night's Freedom Fireworks and Festival which was expected to draw 150,000 to Liberty State Park.
"We have a back-up location at Exchange Place for concerts, use of parking lots for festival, and moving barges for fireworks if need be. We will celebrate Independence Day as it should be," Mayor Steven Fulop wrote on his Facebook page.
Liberty State Park is among state parks and beaches closed until further notice.
Fulop said a contingency plan was always in effect for the event which includes a concert by Kool & The Gang. "Nobody is stopping us," Fulop wrote.
Fulop's message did not include details about the backup plan.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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