30K students expected for College Beach Weekend
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. â College Beach Weekend is expected to return to the oceanfront this coming weekend, City Manager Patrick Duhaney told city council members.
The gathering of college students, as well as events at the Sports Center, will result in a very busy weekend with heavy traffic expected, according to the city.
About 30,000 students are expected at the Oceanfront, the city said, tying it with College Beach Weekend 2018.
“We want to make sure residents know we have a plan in place, but we need you to know what those plans are and be prepared for them,” said Tiffany Russell, the city’s communications director.
The plan includes an increased police presence, bolstering station ambassadors for the weekend and redirecting traffic if necessary. The town also offers free entertainment on stages around the boardwalk, including a DJ.
“We know how to handle large crowds. We know the safety protocols that need to be in place. We do that for July 4 and Shamrock weekend,” Russell said.
Still, there have been problems over the weekend in the past. The violence in 2018 led to the creation of the Something in the Water festival. The festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Pharrell Williams, the festival’s founder, chose not to go ahead with the festival this year, citing “toxic energy” in the direction of the city.
“While most of our visitors are well behaved, the city and the Virginia Beach Police Department are stepping up communications to ensure there is no misunderstanding of our intent to maintain order and continue to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all”, the city said in a newly created website.
Typically, College Beach Weekend has taken place in late April, but city workers have recently noticed some social media chatter this weekend.
“We certainly welcome students. We want them to have a safe time and we want them to come back,” Russell said.
Mike Mauch, owner of the Harvest restaurant on Atlantic Avenue and vice president of the Atlantic Avenue Association, is optimistic that all will go well.
“I hope to have a fun and safe weekend. I hope everyone comes and has a good time while respecting all the laws and staff that make this place enjoyable,” he said.
The city is implementing a series of enhanced measures in preparation for the event.
In anticipation of heavy traffic and to accommodate the larger than normal crowds entering the resort area this weekend, traffic on I-264 eastbound may be diverted at Parks Avenue and rerouted west on I-264 beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 8; 5 p.m. Saturday, April 9; and 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 10 until traffic is safely cleared.
If a traffic diversion is necessary, the eastbound exit from S. Birdneck Road and the westbound exit from First Colonial Road will be closed. Other indirect routes to the resort area would remain open.
Residents who live in the Oceanfront area are advised to plan their trips early and avoid the freeway.
For the weekend
In addition to a robust traffic management plan, the city will put the following measures in place to keep everyone comfortable and safe by the ocean this weekend:
- Live entertainment at 17and and 24and Street scenes from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Portable toilets on every block between 16and and 24and streets near promenade beach access points
- The Resort Ambassador program will have increased its staff to answer questions
- Signage in place for businesses and the Boardwalk sector
- Public boardwalk safety announcements via loudspeakers
- A Student Outreach Center will be open to engage with local and visiting students (2015 Atlantic Ave. inside Coastal Hotel & Suites Virginia Beach Oceanfront)
- Public parking lots will be open – please note that the Atlantic Avenue on-street parking program has ended for the season
- Beach operations will sweep the beach every day at 4 a.m.
The city welcomes and encourages everyone to have a safe and fun time in Virginia Beach. Activities such as the public consumption of alcohol, the use or sale of drugs, the destruction of property, assault and indecent assault are prohibited.
The Virginia Beach Police Department is committed to defusing tense situations and seeking voluntary compliance for most offenses; however, people can be arrested if a given situation presents a danger to the public.
For Virginia Beach Residents
City officials have engaged local businesses and stakeholders in addition to developers and colleges to plan, prepare and educate all parties on what the city will do to safely manage crowds. Residents and visitors can expect the following throughout the weekend:
- A strong presence of VBPD and camera surveillance throughout the waterfront
- Traffic operations will endeavor to minimize traffic impacts in residential neighborhoods
- City crews will work to quickly empty trash cans and clean up the area
- Public Safety will maintain access for emergency services (Police, Fire, EMS) to reach all neighborhoods and the Oceanfront area