VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Few people spent time in chilly Virginia Beach early Friday, but the city is preparing for thousands over the weekend.
“40 to 45,000 college-aged people will be here, and the police will be here,” Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera said.
From law enforcement to road crews, the city is making sure they can handle the crowds. That includes the road work on Pacific Avenue.
Drew Lankford, spokesman for the city’s public works department, told 10 On Your Side, “When we started making our plans for this coming weekend, we’ve realized it was going to be a problem, particularly, with incoming and outgoing traffic as we were going to have to close some lanes doing some of the paving.”
So, to help with traffic flow, Lankford said crews put in lots of extra hours over the last month to get the road work done early. He also told 10 On Your Side there will be more trash pickup this weekend.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to keep the beach clean, keep traffic moving and try and keep everything going as smoothly and as efficiently as possible,” he said.
Jatin Joshi owns the Ocean Waves gift shop on Atlantic Avenue. He said he’s looking forward to the weekend, despite what happened two years ago.
“The city has helped us with the security and all that, so we are not worried,” he said.
Joshi admitted he had some of his bikes stolen during the chaos in 2013, so he’s no longer renting them after dark. While some business owners are closing early, Joshi said he’s not. They will stay open until midnight, with extra employees to handle the business.
“Whoever comes in here, they spend the money, and that’s why we are here,” he said.
Kenny Sanderlin has been at College Beach Weekend for the past several years. He said 2013 was the worst he’d ever seen.
“A lot of people come with the wrong intentions. It’s supposed to be a positive thing,” he said.
This year, he said he’s hopeful of a good time with no violence.
Sanderlin explained the weekend festivities are a getaway for college students on spring break or starting their summer vacation.
“You have live performances, you have people doing the juggling thing, you have people with their music up and down the strip. The boardwalk has volleyball tournaments, flag football games, all kinds of stuff,” he said.
Donna Desliets and her family, in town from Rhode Island, only recently learned about the event. “Its not my kind of thing, but it’s the week we bought the condo, so we’re here,” she said.
Desliets said they’ll be staying inside and leaving Saturday. However, no matter who else is there, business owners, public works crews and the police say they are ready.
VDOT is working with the city of Virginia Beach, so there will be digital traffic information on the highway.