VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Nearly three weeks after a viral video showcased the trashy aftermath of a Memorial Day weekend beach bash, city leaders told residents they have plans in place to prevent future events from facing a similar fate.
With social media posts swirling that another similar event could bring large crowds to the beach just west of the Lynnhaven Inlet on July 4th, City Manager Dave Hansen told the Ocean Park Civic League that this time public resources will be waiting to greet them.
“We think we can assist in people being better stewards of our public beach,” Hansen said to members of the Ocean Park Civic League Thursday night. “
Neighbors of the Ocean Park community were livid that more wasn’t done to control the most recent installment of what is known as “Floatopia,” or “flash mob drunk fest,” as Andrew Broyles, the president of the civic league, called it.
“We don’t support that,” Broyles said. “Five years of tolerating this drunk fest down there, enough is enough.”
The event, which is spread by word of mouth on social media, brought thousands to the area the Sunday before Memorial Day for a party filled with all sorts of flotation devices. It also left behind 10 tons of trash.
Nearby residents say their experience with Floatopia visitors has involved everything from illegal parking and drug activity to beach goers urinating on property, exposing themselves and even threatening homeowners.
Both police and Public Works are stepping up their efforts to combat the negative effects.
“In total I have 31 officers going out to this,” said Reo Hatfield, Captain of the Virginia Beach Police Third Precinct. “They are calling for it to be bigger and calling for it to be more rowdy next time.”
Hatfield said that is an increase of 22 officers from the event last month and he is also arranging for help from other agencies, including the health department who he has requested conduct water testing before and after the event.
“I have hired four off duty deputies to work in our lockup. This is the first time I’m opening the third precinct lockup,” Hatfield said.
There will also be additional trash cans, dumpsters and porta-potties placed along the 21 beach access points in the area.
Several residents complained that those additional services would only encourage more people to come. Many expressed they just want the event gone. A petition to ban the event has more than 1,000 signatures.
“Quite frankly people that are coming here pay taxes too,” Hansen responded. “Our job is to say let’s try to accommodate the public who is using the public access, for them to access the public beach. Let’s try to provide an opportunity for them to enjoy the beach, clean it up and throw their stuff away.”
The Independence Day event in Virginia Beach isn’t being organized by Stephen Hobbs, who headed up the one Memorial Day weekend. Rather he said he will be attending one planned at Norfolk’s Ocean View beach.
Virginia Beach Police say he does plan to hold another one near Buoy 44 on Labor Day weekend.
“I think the city has offered us enough that we should be satisfied with what they are doing,” Broyles said after the meeting. “If you come to Ocean Park and want to be drunk on the beach and cause problems, sounds to me like you are going to be hauled away.”
Hansen said if things are not better, they will reassess their options.
CORRECTION : An earlier version of this article stated the meeting was held by the Ocean Lakes Civic League. WAVY.com apologizes for the error.