Seaside Heights may seek restitution from YouTubers for crowd of 2,500
Seaside Heights is going to bill the YouTube pranksters for costs incurred when fans came to see them at the "Jersey Shore" house on Monday night.
About 2,500 people showed up when the Nelk Boys posted video they were staying at the infamous house where the MTV show was filmed, according to Seaside Heights police. Another 1,000 people also showed up for a car show sponsored by Full Send, which is a brand connected to the Nelk Boys.
The term "full send" is often used by the group in their videos when they are about to do something that will likely be posted to their YouTube channel.
The stunt earned the opprobrium of Gov. Phil Murphy, who said the "so-called influencers need to be taken to task" for "our most extreme — which is saying something, by the way — and egregious display of knucklehead behavior in Seaside Heights."
Murphy said the Nelk Boys "succeeded in getting the notoriety they wanted but obviously don’t deserve," putting the lives of their fans and police in danger.
Eight people were arrested as police Chief Tommy Boyd closed off access to the borough and called in help from surrounding towns to help gain control of the crowd. Many in the crowd were not wearing face coverings, according to Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy.
"It's exactly the type of situation that we cannot have. It was irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect," Murphy said.
Mayor Tony Vaz told New Jersey 101.5 that young people were jumping over fences, jumping into a water park, running around parking lots and banging on hotel room doors.
"It's all bad behavior. There's no just cause," Vaz said.
The mayor said he will attempt to get restitution from the Nelk Boys for police overtime and other expenses incurred by borough police and the dozen law enforcement agencies that responded to Boyd's call. The mayor first plans to meet with the borough attorney to find out if it can be done before coming up with a dollar amount.
"There was a lot of police overtime involved and other police departments assisted us. They should be compensated," Vaz said.
Vaz said that his administration has worked on cleaning up Seaside Heights' party image in favor of a family friendly atmosphere with wine festivals and beach concerts.
"We were starting to get a real knack for being family driven," Vaz said.
When Vaz got wind of the Nelk Boys coming, he spoke to house owner Danny Merk, who tried to cancel their rental agreement.
"He says he called the real estate agent and tried to cancel it. The real estate agent says no, he didn't call, but I tried to convince him not to do it. It's a he-said, she-said," Vaz said, pointing out that Merk did not have a certificate of occupancy to rent the house, which resulted in two violations from the borough.
"He was apologetic and so forth. He didn't realize it was going to blow up out of proportion like this," Vaz said.
Residents were scared at what what they saw going on Monday night.
"They were frightened. All these sirens, thousands of kids running down Ocean Terrace. This puts chaos into a community. Merk realizes that but after you commit the damage you have to pay the consequences," Vaz said.
A member of the Nelk Boys posted two videos on Twitter that denied headlines that they "threw a party" and blamed themselves for being unaware of the power of their own fame.
“We all watched the show, we thought it would be cool,” Jesse Sebastiani said in one of the videos, adding that they hired four off-duty police officers to beef up their own security to disperse the crowd.
“Word just spread like absolute wildfire, especially in these small-ass towns. If we’re posing stories in LA its not that big a deal. But when we show up in these small towns we’ve learned that when COVID’s going on people are bored people and are going to f***ing show up,” Sebastiani said. “We don’t know how big we are.”
Sebastiani said they have learned the lesson that they can no longer post stories about where they are without drawing a crowd, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were wrong and we're going to have to f***ing learn from that. Can't post stories because we’re gonna get s**t," Sebastiani said.
Sebastiani also said Seaside Heights police had escorted them around.
“The police were on our side. They said we did nothing wrong,” he said.
Vaz said he was not aware of any assistance police gave to the group.