WILDWOOD - Raphael Caetano and Vinny Frigatti walked down the Wildwood Boardwalk on Monday with their shorts hanging just low enough to make the waistbands on their underwear, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, respectively, visible to passers-by.
The two friends, visiting from Harrison, hadn't heard of the city's recently passed ordinance banning low-hanging attire on the Boardwalk, and both were a little surprised by the regulations.
"I mean it's America," said Caetano, a 17-year-old high school junior. "You do whatever you want."
The ordinance, Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said, takes effect today, and while he doesn't expect to be handing out many tickets, he does expect that people will get the message.
"We're not looking to give any tickets out to anybody," Troiano said. "We just want them to obey the law."
The law under the city ordinance requires that:
•Foot protection, which may include shoes, sneakers or flip-flops that adequately protect one's feet from wood or nails protruding from the surface of the Boardwalk, must be worn at all times.
•A shirt that covers the breast and pectoral area must be worn after 8 p.m. and until 5 a.m..
•The waistband of shorts, swim trunks, pants and skirts shall not be worn more than 3 inches below the wearer's waist - interpreted to mean at a level below the crest of the ilium, so as to expose either skin or garment underneath - at any time.
News of the requirements especially surprised Caetano, who moved from Brazil, where the beaches are known for an anything-goes approach.
"It's the beach. What's so bad about it," he said of those who walk around with baggy pants.
But others, including visitor Kristina Dunleavy, of Westchester, N.Y., applauded the city for the new rules.
"I think it's fantastic," she said as she and some her family strolled the boards Monday.
Dunleavy came to town for the holiday weekend with 10 family members, including her children ages 2 and 10 months.
"I think it sets a poor image for the younger children that are down here to see (the low-hanging pants or shorts)," she said, adding such dress is usually visible along the Boardwalk more on the weekends than weekdays.
"I don't think it's appropriate," she said.
Troiano said he has received messages of support from across the country, with callers from Alabama, Colorado and California expressing support.
"People tell me it's a great thing," Troiano said, adding one caller said he planned to visit Wildwood because of the new law.
Troiano said the city won't be posting any signs about the regulations, but officers will offer friendly reminders to offenders.
"From what I gather, few people were violating it over the weekend," he said.
The city's Police Department handled 792 calls between July 4 and 7, Capt. Robert Regalbuto said. None were related to any sagging or low-hanging pants sightings.
Fines for first-time offenders are a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $100.
As for Frigatti, he said he'll pay attention to how his pants hang on his next trip to the island.
"I guess. I don't want to get a ticket," he said.
Contact Trudi Gilfillian: