Thousands attend Lakewood Shomrim event in violation of executive orders limiting outdoor gatherings


LAKEWOOD, NJ – Thousands of people attended an event hosted by the Lakewood Shomrim (LCSW). The event was held at the amphitheater in Lake Carasaljo Park. Adults and children were packed tightly on the amphitheater steps, in clear violation of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s executive orders limiting outdoor gatherings and maintaining health safety guidelines.

The 44-minute long event was a free community event featuring magician and entertainer Mark Garfinkel. While a flyer created for the event by the Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch asked guests to “please adhere to all safety rules”, few if any in attendance did.

The Shomrim claimed the event was endorsed by the Lakewood Township Police Department and New Jersey State Police. Both agencies had members in attendance during the event. New Jersey State Police rode on horseback during the event through the park.

Photos and videos from the event show clear executive order violations which far surpass the violations New Jersey State Police Superintendent, Colonel Patrick Callahan reports each day during Governor Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 briefings.

In recent weeks, the governor’s ABC compliance task force has issued fines and threatened to suspend liquor licenses and business licenses for dozens of New Jersey bars and restaurants for exceeding capacity limits. Businesses are capped at 25% capacity and even outdoor public sporting events and concerts are capped at levels that make hosting them an unprofitable venture.

Prior to the holiday weekend, Murphy told Christians celebrating Easter and Jewish residents celebrating the Passover holidays not to be “knuckleheads” and limit gathering and exposures, both indoors and outdoors.

According to Governor Murphy’s executive orders capping outdoor gatherings, here are his rules, which were clearly violated on Friday:

  • General outdoor gatherings must be limited to 200 people and social distancing must be practiced.
  • There is no limit for outdoor gatherings for wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, funerals, memorial services, religious activities, or political activities.
  • Outdoor catered events are limited to 200 individuals, excluding staff, as long as appropriate social distancing can be maintained. Learn more.
  • Outdoor sports practices and competitions may exceed the general outdoor gathering limit under specific exceptions, described in this article.
  • Outdoor performances at outdoor entertainment centers, including movie theaters, performing arts centers, and other concert venues, are limited to a number that ensures that all people can remain six feet apart, but no more than 200 people.
  • Large venues, including sports and entertainment venues, with a fixed seating capacity of 2,500 or more may host events at 30 percent capacity outdoors; the 30 percent capacity limit excludes participants, such as athletes and performers, and staff, such as coaches and ushers, but include patrons and other members of the public.

With nearly 2,000 in attendance on Friday, there was no sign of social distancing or “masking up”.

We reached out to the following agencies for comment, but have yet to receive a response:

  • New Jersey State Police
  • Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy
  • New Jersey Attorney General
  • Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch
  • Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer
  • Lakewood Police Department
  • New Jersey Governor’s Office

At this point, it is unknown if the organizers from the Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch have been charged for the executive order violation. The organizers of the event thanked the New Jersey State Police for providing two officers on horseback. They also thanked Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy for providing a department K-9 officer and handler for the event.

We will update this story as we receive responses from the above agencies. You can watch a video of the event here.

The following photos were shared by LCSW on their Facebook page.

Lakewood Police Department ranking officers speak with LCSW coordinator during the event. It is not sure at this time if a violation was given.
Lakewood Police officers give out stickers to the children at the event.
New Jersey State Police Officers ride on horseback during the Lakewood event.

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