BY BOB HOLT
Many Jersey shore locals have long resented summer visitors, blaming them for noise, trash and traffic, while overlooking the added revenue they bring. The tourists have picked up a few ugly names along the way, like Bennies, Shoobies, and now FOOTs.
Foots is an acronym for "Out Of Towners," preceded by an obscenity. You've heard it before. Bumper stickers appeared recently on a few cars at Brigantine City Hall with the slogan "I Ain't No FOOT." NorthJersey.com reports that prompted memos reminding city workers about appropriate behavior.
Anti-summer resident and anti-visitor sentiment is a tradition in some shore towns, dating to the days of Philadelphians or New Yorkers packing their lunches in shoe boxes before a train trip to the beach – hence the nickname "shoobies."
According to NJ.com, in northern shore towns, they're called Bennies (an acronym for "Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York" or variations thereof.)The bumper stickers are a new spin on an old attitude at the shore. In Monmouth and Ocean counties, black-and-white bumper stickers demanding "Bennies Go Home" are plastered on lamp poles, road signs, public benches and elsewhere. A road leading from Belmar to the Garden State Parkway commonly has a large wooden sign posted next to the pavement on Labor Day weekend bidding the Bennies goodbye and rejoicing that the locals "have our shore back."
During an Aug. 18 City Council meeting in Brigantine, resident Mike Brennan alleged that FOOTs is an acronym, and some of the sticker-bearers were owned by city employees, he said, which led to a flurry of memos reminding them of what is or is not appropriate.
But in Brigantine this summer, the FOOT controversy came on the heels of remarks by Councilman Sam Storino during a council meeting that many people believed were targeted at summer residents. He complained to some members of the crowd about people who visit from somewhere else because they like Brigantine and now they want to change it. Storino said he was talking about a specific group of political opponents who are dual residents.
The Press of Atlantic City reports that during the Aug. 18 council meeting, Brennan read from a restricted Facebook page, "Greenheads against FOOTs," which he said contained posts and messages from at least one city employee, occasionally posted on city time.
"A FOOT actually came into my office to show off a bug bite she had from one of our greenheads," read another post recited by Brennan. "She claims she will never come to Brigantine again. Well, I say one down, 24,999 to go."
"There should be a vaccine for us so we can be immune to the FOOTs," read one comment. "P.S., I really want a sticker."
Marc Daniels, owner of a tourist-oriented gift store that sells beach chairs, pails and shovels to vacationing families, said that with the economy continuing to struggle, making tourists feel unwelcome is one of the most self-destructive things a shore community can do, according to the Daily Record.
City Manager Jim Barber said last week that he "reissued the memo regarding the use of city computers, reminding people that they can't be used for anything but city business."