POINT PLEASANT, NJ – One of the largest crowds of Memorial Day weekend was at a “Freedom Rally” in Point Pleasant where an estimated one thousand people protesting the forced closure of businesses by Governor Phil Murphy took place. The only problem is, that crowd was contained to the municipal parking lot, because Mayor Paul Kanitra has virtually closed his town to outsiders. Protestors and speakers at the rally weren’t the only ones upset with Mayor Kanitra, so is one of the town’s largest businesses and employers, Jenkinson’s.
Jenkinson’s operates the Point Pleasant amusement rides, arcades, games of chance, restaurants, and an aquarium on the Point Pleasant Boardwalk. The company also owns a large portion of the Point Pleasant beachfront but was forced to remain closed on Memorial Day weekend because of the mayor’s closure orders. In addition to keeping his town closed to outsiders, Kanitra also ordered resident-only parking for the entire length of the beachfront his town, keeping outsiders from tempting to defy his closure. The company said it was ready to go.
“Unfortunately, due to the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach not opening the boardwalk, Jenkinson’s Beach will not be open for Memorial Day Weekend. We are extremely disappointed as our staff has worked diligently to prepare for a safe opening,” the company said in a statement shortly before Memorial Day weekend kicked off.
Kanitra defended his actions to keep coronavirus infected outsiders out of his town and touted his town’s low COVID-19 infection rate. Kanitra even deemed media outlets as “Fake News” for
“The measures we put in place in Point Pleasant are working incredibly well,” Kanitra said. “They have kept our town, residents and guests safe.”
Kanitra said next week, he will consider opening parking lots and beaches in the north end of town and will work on easing the locals-only parking enforcement within the next few weeks and hopes his town is fully ramped up for Independence Day weekend.
Mayor Kanitra also spoke in a Facebook video on Friday defending his decision to keep the town closed and distanced himself from the political rally that took place in his town, saying he was not affiliated with the rally, warning residents to steer clear of that area.
“Sometimes I can’t believe that this is the reality I’m governing in, middle of a pandemic, residents getting sick and some people have reduced the decisions that need to be made in broad stroke moves,” Kanitra said. “Open everything up, that’s incredibly shortsighted.”
Governor Phil Murphy still has not allowed indoor restaurant seating, arcades or rides to reopen.