Island Beach State Park is a real gem of a beach. It's quiet; there are no amusement park rides and no boardwalk. Just miles and miles of beach. If you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you can even park near the water.
For the Fourth of July on Tuesday, my husband and I planned to take our inflatable kayak, bicycles, swimsuits there and make a day of it. Then came word that all of the state beaches in Jersey would be closed over the holiday because of a government shutdown.
OK, things happen.
Then, we saw a photo of Gov. Christie lounging on that same beach, sunning himself in a pair of shorts with his wife next to him. Not only was he out there — but he and his crew had the entire beach to themselves. They were photographed by NJ.com out enjoying the water and relaxing in the sun, just as if it were an ordinary day. It was as if New Jersey hadn't announced on Friday that all nonessential state services such as parks, beaches, and motor vehicle offices would be closed over the holiday weekend.
But here's what makes it "Beachgate." The beach was closed to us but not to his friends and family.
What gall. It was a low-down thing to do. By dragging a beach chair out onto Island Beach Park and plunking his hefty, shorts-encased backside onto it, it was as if Christie gave us all the middle finger. It was an insult to the entire state of New Jersey and anyone else who enjoys hanging out on its beaches.
Christie's beach chair move reeks of power and privilege as well as the abuse of it. It was a classic example of the old, I-got-mine-you-get-yours-mentality that dogs Republicans, especially this one, whose term expires in January and whose approval ratings are down around 15 percent.
A true leader sets an example. When there's something to be had, someone who cares about his constituents doesn't just grab all he can for himself. He makes sure his people get what they need first. He doesn't go and claim the best pickings for himself and his family the way Christie did by having a private beach party near the governor's Shore residence after announcing the closure of state beaches and parks.
"That's the way it goes," Christie said Saturday. "Run for governor and you can have the residence."
Get outta here with that. Just because you can do something, doesn't make it right, Gov. Greedy.
Conrad Kurach, of Bensalem, had promised to take his three children, ages 2, 5, and 11, to Island Beach on Saturday. He'd packed his pickup truck with everything they would need for the day, including fishing gear. When he had to notify his children that the beach had been closed, the youngest cried.
"When I saw that, I was like, 'Wow that's crazy,' " said Kurach, who purchased a yearlong pass for $225. "All the other people could not go in, but he could."
Kurach had planned to spend both Saturday and Sunday enjoying the water with this kids. He's wondering whether he can get a refund for the beach time he missed.