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Police in New Jersey were forced to break up a gathering of hundreds after fans flocked to a house featured in “Jersey Shore” in an attempt to see a group of popular YouTubers.
The Nelk Boys, a group of content creators who have more than 5 million followers on YouTube, rented out the famous house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, where the cast of the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” filmed numerous episodes, to host a launch party for their website on Monday night, NBC News reports. However, the event soon attracted more than 1,000 people, according to witnesses, and had to be broken up by police that evening due to restrictions on social gatherings that were implemented due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
State mandates restrict outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 500 people and state that social distancing must be practiced, but in video of the crowds shared to the Nelk Boys’ social media pages, hordes of people were pressed closely together and very few of them seemed to be wearing any kind of face coverings.
In one video shared on Instagram, one of the YouTubers opens the door to the house to reveal the crowd of people gathered outside and the police presence. The caption referenced “getting kicked out of the shore house.”
The owner of the home, Daniel Merk, told NBC News that he thought that the party would be a small one, but the Nelk Boys’ substantial fanbase showed up in bigger numbers than expected.
"They have a lot of passionate fans and they followed them," he said. "I was not prepared for this, the town was not prepared for this."
He went on to say that he expects to face “ramifications” due to the party.
Seaside Mayor Anthony Vaz told NBC News that he plans to have the Nelk Boys cover the cost of the police presence on Monday night and suggested that Merk could lose his rental license due to the incident.
Five people were arrested at the gathering on Monday night, WPVI-TV reported.
Vaz, who has previously said that he is committed to changing the town's image from one of reality TV partying to being a family friendly destination, said that Monday night's drama caused a "fear factor" in the town. Similarly, Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday night criticized the "knucklehead behavior" of the Nelk Boys and called the incident "irresponsible."
"On Monday we saw [a] most extreme ... and egregious display of knucklehead behavior in Seaside Heights thanks to YouTube pranksters who succeeded in getting the notoriety they wanted, but obviously don't deserve," he said, according to WPVI-TV. "It was irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect."
In response to reports regarding Monday night’s activities, the Nelk Boys wrote on Twitter that they hired off-duty police officers for their event and criticized the media for “trying to take down Nelk.”
“WE took all the precautions and paid for off duty police outside the shore house. They were not called on us! Stop f---ing lying. police themselves said to us we did NOTHING wrong!” one tweet reads.
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