New Jersey Pride (Part 2 of 5): In an exclusive weeklong series, we examine the best and worst of the Garden State. Stereotypes and other factors influence how the outside world views New Jersey and its residents, but pride runs deep among those Jersey-born and raised.

Dino Flammia with NJ resident
Townsquare Media NJ photo

New Jersey residents take great pride in the state’s beaches, around-the-clock availability of diners and its stronghold on Taylor ham, but New Jersey loses points with the same people for some other reasons that are out of their control.

Speaking with New Jerseyans at an event in Mercer County, residents were quick to point out the struggles of being a Garden Stater that may even sometimes stop them from mentioning New Jersey as their home state.

Not surprisingly, the MTV “reality” program “Jersey Shore,” featuring a manufactured cast of partiers in Seaside Heights, received most of the backlash.

“It’s a terrible show. We’re nothing like that at all,” said Edison resident Jessica Criss. “’Jersey Shore’ is associated with, pretty much, New Yorkers coming here.”

A number of residents said because of the program, they sometimes find themselves defending their state, a job they never had before the show’s launch.

“I talk to people from out of state, and they’re like, ‘Is everybody like that?’” and I’m like, ‘No, I don’t have orange skin,’” said Frank Damato of Woodbridge.

“I said, ‘That’s not really the Jersey shore. The Jersey shore is a lot more low-key,'” added Michelle Gaestel of Point Pleasant.

But the “gym, tan, laundry” program wasn’t the only thing on the list of complaints among New Jersey residents. Many pointed to the crowdedness in public and the congestion on the roads, noting they don’t see it as much when traveling beyond the state’s borders.

“It kind of sucks sitting in traffic, and the traffic in Jersey can be pretty bad, especially on the Parkway and the Turnpike,” said Diana Antunes of Lawrenceville.

Representing those on the outside looking in, Tonya Prow of Raleigh, N.C. said she’s glad New Jersey isn’t home. She has family in the Garden State, and when she comes to visit, it’s never a pleasant trip.

“I hate the traffic, I don’t like the parking, and you can’t pump your own gas,” Prow said. “What’s up with that?”

In Part 3 of our series, we’ll get an expert’s opinion on the role television programming plays in shaping New Jersey's image.

Click below to view previous stories in our "New Jersey Pride" series:

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