VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – It wasn’t perfect, but Mayor Will Sessoms says College Beach Weekend was much better this time around.
This year, Virginia Beach Police report only a few minor incidents at the Oceanfront — a huge contrast to the 150 plus arrests last year. Mayor Sessoms says the difference is due to a combined effort to be more prepared.
“Anytime you look at a weekend that occurred just one year ago and saw people that were stabbed and shot, you don’t want that,” Sessoms said. “To sit back and say it was perfect, no. You’re always going to have some incidents whenever you have that many people, but it was a complete difference from last year.”
This year, it’s estimated more people were at the Oceanfront than the 40,000 visitors last year. Still, Sessoms says things were fairly peaceful.
“I stand by what I said last year, that we had a lot of young people come to the city to have fun, and then a lot of people showed up that weren’t invited to the party,” Sessoms said.
This time he says preparation and team work were key. Virginia Beach police say additional officers from several different precincts — many in reflective vests for more visibility — were on hand. They say they worked with the Virginia Beach Hotel and Motel Association, the City’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, City Officials and Oceanfront business owners to develop a plan on how to best deal with the increased crowds and traffic.
“Obviously the city was well prepared, and I could not be more proud of our police department, the way they conducted themselves and handled their job,” Sessoms said. “I think with the police presence and also working with the businesses and the community, letting people know what to expect, I think that made a tremendous difference. I really do.”
As for traffic, police say they did have to do a partial shut down of some beachfront streets and traffic was redirected at certain times. But I-264 and other major thoroughfares were not affected.
10 On Your Side is still waiting on the overall numbers from police and business owners, concerning the weekend. Count on WAVY.com to keep you updated with that information comes in, but for now, the Mayor says he’s heard great feedback.