VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Two weeks before the event expected to bring large crowds to the Oceanfront, Virginia Beach City officials are gearing up for College Beach Weekend.
Thousands are expected this year, and after a much quieter event in 2014, city leaders, business owners and residents don’t expect a repeat of 2013: police made 150 arrests and dealt with assaults, shootings and stabbings.
During a round-table discussion Friday, Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera, Mayor Will Sessoms, and Director of Convention and Visitors Bureau James Ricketts talked about city tourism and explained their plans for the event.
“The city wanted to get the word out that this is kind of an event. We are used to events. We work a lot of them. This is just another weekend in the year for us,” Chief Cervera said.
Although they didn’t give specific details on the city’s plan, they called last year’s event a success and said they will keep the plan the same with a few tweaks.
“The big difference between this particular weekend, while not as big as the 4th of July, everyone here will be of a younger age and young folks stay out much later than old folks,” Chief Cervera said. “Young kids are a little louder because that’s the way you are when you’re young. You’re loud, you’re innovated, and so we know how to deal with that.”
Chief Cervera said there are several traffic plans in place, including restricting traffic on Atlantic Avenue after a certain time. There is also a crowd management plan, he said.
One new element this year will be recruitment. Cervera said recruiting officers will be looking for police officer candidates in the crowd.
The event has been promoted online and through social media, but the Dolphin Inn hotel manager says they had no idea their business was part of that promotion.
“I was appalled,” Shanna Horton said. She said the inn found out about a week ago that their business was listed.
“I don’t want any trouble coming in here, alone, just because we were being advertised,” Horton said. “I really hope that it’s a lot more calm this year.”
Sydney Sabir, the manager of Bargain Beachwear, said he’s only worried about the big crowds the weekend draws to the Oceanfront. Sabir said he plans to bring in extra employees. He will close his doors early, once people become more interested in partying, rather than shopping.
“When we can see that we only have people who want to party outside, we’re going to close,” Sabir said.
Chief Cervera said officers are monitoring social media for event promotions. He said chatter about the weekend is increasing, so they are trying to make sure nothing surprises them, like it did two years ago.