VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach saw a lot of violence during last year’s College Beach Weekend.
Now a task force whose job it was to assess previous College Beach Weekends says the event could be hurting the city’s reputation.
The task force, made up of beach business leaders, spent nearly a year interviewing college students, tourists and business owners, and closely researching how other cities handle these events.
They have some ideas on how to control the crowd and the crime that’s come with it.
The weekend is marred by bad attitudes and bad behaviors, according to Louisa Strayhorn, the chair of the task force.
“It really is a reflection of all of us on the beach if we can’t have a weekend where people can get together.”
The crowd of predominantly African-American students has hit the Oceanfront in April for the last five years.
Last spring four people were shot and one was stabbed.
Restaurant workers told 10 On Your Side they were terrified and disgusted by the lewd behavior on the streets.
“People, finally, you know, admitted to a certain extent that they had believed the hype, and it had become one where it had become racially charged.”
The task force found race had nothing to do with it — neither did college students for that matter.
Local high schoolers caused most problems they found.
Strayhorn pointed out with a crowd 30,000 crammed into a 10 block area, “you’re almost looking at a situation where something is going to happen unless you turn around and decide you’re going to manage that effectively.”
- Manage capacity and crowds by shutting down entry to the Oceanfront early to avoid gridlock, and temporarily making Atlantic and Pacific avenues one-way streets
- Create special events to give visitors something to do and help the city limit crowds by event or city block
- Have better communication
“If we have not been letting people know what’s going to be happening on a weekend, how can you expect to be able to control what goes on?” asked Strayhorn.
City council and the city manager are currently reviewing the task force’s findings.