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Nanny of the Week: Even a summertime trip to the beach can’t be nanny-free

By   /   May 30, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 7 of 89 in the series Nanny State of the Week

By Eric Boehm |

With Memorial Day now in the year’s rear-view mirror, summer has officially begun.

Millions of Americans will spend part of their summer at the beach — hoping to soak in the rays, play in the surf and enjoy the freedom that only a summer vacation can provide.

HEY KIDS: Got a building permit for that sand castle?

HEY KIDS: Got a building permit for that sand castle?

But lest you think a carefree summer getaway can be free of government nannies, we’re here to offer some examples of how beach towns are trying to control what you do and how you do it.

Ocean City, Md., made headlines earlier this month for instituting a new ban on profanity at the beach.

Though there is no legal punishment for mutter a swear word after being decked by a large wave or losing a game of beach volleyball, the town posted dozens of signs along its boardwalk and beachfront reminding visitors to watch their mouth.

How are the signs working? Well, not so great, if you believe the Washington Post.

By the looks of the boardwalk traffic Saturday morning, the masses had already begun to flock. Children on bikes with training wheels trailed their parents. Older couples casually strolled, unpressed for time. And (Tiiler) Irving and his friends sat taking in the fresh air, flinging curses back and forth nonstop just feet from one of the new, baby-blue no-swearing signs.

“We came here to unwind,” Irving, of Baltimore, said. Telling him not to curse, he said, is like telling him not to breathe. “You can take us out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of us.”

There might not be a fine for swearing in Ocean City, but in Wildwood, N.J., wearing shorts that sag a bit too low or skirts that officials think are a little too tight could leave your wallet $200 lighter.

The popular Jersey Shore town (not the location of the formerly popular MTV series, which was filmed in Seaside Heights) approved the ban and fines last year. The dress code also bans anyone from going barefoot on the town’s boardwalk and requires that shirts  be worn after 8 p.m.

Mayor Ernie Troiano told The Guardian last year that the ban was intended to make the boardwalk a more welcoming place for visitors and were passed in the name of decency.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in New Jersey approved a statewide ban on smoking at all public beaches, something that most popular beaches had already adopted during the past decade.

But the state law comes with more serious teeth. Get caught lighting up at the shore and you could face a fine of up to $1,000.

The resort town of Bethany Beach, Del., took things a step farther this summer. With smoking already banned at public beaches there, city officials decided to extend the ban to electronic cigarettes as well.

We’ve covered the debate over e-cigarettes quite a bit here at The battery-powered devices allow a user to inhale a mix of water vapor, nicotine and flavoring — they contain neither smoke nor tobacco, making them both safer for users and less annoying for everyone else.

Even so, that hasn’t stopped towns and cities across the country from regulating them exactly the same as traditional, tobacco cigarettes.

Why did Bethany Beach decide to ban e-cigarettes too?

Vice Mayor Jack Gordon told WDEL-AM that e-cigarettes have made enforcing the current smoking ban difficult; he says unless you actually walk up to someone and look closely, you don’t know whether someone is smoking a cigarette or an electronic cigarette.

I suppose it’s only a matter of time until the town bans candy cigarettes, for the same reason too.

For their efforts to control how freedom-loving Americans spend their summer holidays, city officials at beach towns across the mid-Atlantic region are this week’s winners. For regulating public places so heartily, their prize is getting lots of sand in their, well, private places.

Boehm is a reporter for and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @EricBoehm87 and @WatchdogOrg on Twitter for more.

Part of 89 in the series Nanny State of the Week
  1. Nanny-state state of the week: MD may become first to ban Vaportinis
  2. Nanny-state city of the week: Minneapolis wants to ban take-out trays
  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
  4. Nanny state of the week: Fairfax, VA, wants to limit the right to assemble
  5. Nanny state of the week: SC — and Schumer — for duplicative efforts to ban powdered alcohol
  6. Nanny of the Week: Virginia hoses down car wash fundraisers
  7. Nanny of the Week: Even a summertime trip to the beach can’t be nanny-free
  8. Nanny of the week: Federal authorities think feral cats can read signs
  9. Nanny of the week: Cambridge wants to ban ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft
  10. Nanny-stater of the week: NY lawmaker wants to ban photos with tigers
  11. Nanny-stater of the Week: Who needs cupcakes and candy? Here, have a pencil
  12. Nanny-stater of the week: Fargo limits kids to less than four shots of juice per day
  13. Nanny-stater of the week: Wisconsin towns fight repeal of bow ban
  14. Nanny of the week: No fun in the sun, thanks to Congress and FDA
  15. Nanny-stater of the week: DOT to ban cell phone use on planes
  16. Nanny of the week: The out-of-control trend of arresting non-helicopter moms
  17. Nanny of the Week: Vermont city could ban ‘human activity’
  18. Nanny of the Week: Mississippi makes bird feeders illegal – by accident
  19. Nanny of the week: MO town bans breastfeeding near pools
  20. Nanny of the Week: School bans lip balm, 11 year-old girl fights back
  21. blows lid off Vermont’s bake sale brownie ban
  22. Nanny of the Week: Seattle imposes fine on residents who throw away food
  23. Nanny of the Week: California bans plastic bags
  24. Nanny of the week: Maybe this time it will be different for Chicago
  25. Nanny of the Week: Florida growls at craft breweries’ growlers
  26. Nanny of the Week: Massachusetts town seeking to ban tobacco faces uprising from residents
  27. Nanny of the Week: Proposed bans on Thanksgiving Day shopping
  28. Nanny of the week: U.S. government bans ‘Comfyballs’ underwear
  29. Nanny of the Week: Better take down those holiday decorations
  30. Nanny of the week: Towns ban sledding
  31. Nanny of the Week: New York City plans to ban out-of-state cars
  32. Nanny of the Week: Snow-shoveling teens get in trouble with the law
  33. Nanny of the Week: Get caught wearing yoga pants three times, go to jail for life
  34. Nanny of the Week: Georgia lawmaker wants to ban mermaids, werewolves, other fictional creatures from real life
  35. Nanny State of the Week: Endangering manatees in Florida
  36. Nanny of the Week: Christie caves to protectionist gravestone proposal in N.J.
  37. Nanny of the Week: Don’t mix beer and ice cream – because of the children
  38. Nanny of the Week: Is the minimum wage a nanny state policy?
  39. Nanny of the Week: Republican in NY backs cat declawing ban
  40. Nanny of the Week: NJ continues ban on self-serve gasoline, because sometimes it snows
  41. Nanny of the Week: Bernie Sanders is coming for your deodorant
  42. Nanny of the Week: Will babies confuse beer for their binkies?
  43. Nanny of the Week: Weeds will prevail in Maryland lawn care ban
  44. Nanny State of the Week: FDA bans trans-fats
  45. Nanny State of the Week: L.A. plans to jail unlicensed street vendors
  46. Nanny ST8 of the Week: Anti-government messages not allowed on license plates
  47. Nanny State of the Week: Helicopters, horses and New York City
  48. Nanny State of the Week: Lawsuit challenges Seattle trash snooping
  49. Nanny State of the Week: Town officials mandate mowing
  50. Nanny State of the Week: Florida county sends environmental specialist to investigate BBQ
  51. Nanny State: Despite menu nannies, Americans still fat!
  52. Nanny State of the Week: New York City’s ban on Styrofoam hurts businesses, consumers
  53. Nanny State of the Week: Colorado Springs may ban sitting in public places
  54. Nanny State of the Week: New York’s soda ban could be back — but for kids only
  55. Nanny State of the Week: D.C. flexing licensing muscles at personal trainers
  56. Nanny State of the Week: Hammock bans mean no hanging out on college campuses
  57. Nanny State of the Week: County can use same lawn treatments it banned residents from using
  58. Nanny State of the Week: Pols want to ban daily fantasy sports
  59. Nanny State of the Week: Bay Area bureaucrats ban fireplaces, wood stoves
  60. Nanny State of the Week: Halloween for the politically correct only
  61. Nanny State of the Week: Governments lag behind the public on orca captivity ban
  62. Nanny State of the Week: New York might accidentally ban makeup
  63. Nanny State of the Week: California could be first state to apply no-fly list to guns
  64. Nanny State of the Week: University may block social media app in futile effort to combat racism
  65. Nanny State of the Week: City fines residents for chipped paint, mismatched curtains
  66. Nanny State of the Week: No Christmas in Bethlehem this year
  67. Nanny State of the Week: Connecticut may outlaw smoking in many cars
  68. Nanny State of the Week: Town inspection checks whether you cleaned your toilet
  69. Nanny State of the Week: Minnesota men facing felony charges for selling beer
  70. Nanny State of the Week: City rewrites law to block theater from getting liquor license
  71. Nanny State of the Week: FDA goes beyond the pale, prepares to ban teen tanning
  72. Nanny State of the Week: Charleston’s storied history is off-limits to the unlicensed
  73. Nanny State of the Week: Feds marketing food stamps with bingo games, TV ads
  74. Nanny State of the Week: No sipping and selling for Alabama winemakers
  75. Nanny State of the Week: Jail time for texting while walking in New Jersey
  76. Nanny State of the Week: In time for Opening Day, cities ban chewing tobacco at ballparks
  77. Nanny State of the Week: Feds send LSD Ale on a long, strange trip
  78. Nanny State of the Week: Happy Tax Day! Now get ready to pay more to file
  79. Nanny State of the Week: A state license for breast-feeding advice?
  80. Nanny State of the Week: School officials bully kids with ban on skinny jeans
  81. Nanny State of the Week: FDA fries family’s potato chip business with new cooking oil mandates
  82. Nanny State of the Week: CFPB knows what is best for your personal finances
  83. Nanny State of the Week: City cracks down on crawfish boils after mayor’s aide complains
  84. Nanny State of the Week: Florida couple still fighting for their vegetable garden
  85. Nanny State of the Week: State lawmakers to decide where you can get an Uber in Boston
  86. Nanny State of the Week: Businesses can’t sell parking spaces to Braves fans
  87. Nanny State of the Week: OK, everybody’s foam toys, out of the pool
  88. Nanny State of the Week: Get out of the pool!
  89. Nanny State of the Week: Common sense goes to the dogs in Phoenix
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    Eric Boehm is the national regulatory reporter for He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87 and reach him at [email protected]