Police in South Beach were out early Friday closing streets and preparing for the kickoff of Urban Beach weekend. Sgt. Bobby Hernandez of the Miami Beach Police talks about arrest statistics.
Police in South Beach were out early Friday closing streets and preparing for the kickoff of Urban Beach weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of people come to South Beach each year for the three-day weekend, with some estimates saying it could reach about 500,000 in 2012. On Thursday, 47 people were arrested, Miami Beach Police said.
And tourists were out in full force on Friday.
"We are celebrating her graduation from college you know," said Jasmine Madison on South Beach.
"Support the Miami economy, you know," said another tourist, James Myrick.
Miami Beach officials have been planning since last year, working on a more extensive plan to handle crowds, traffic and disorderly behavior.
Last year's weekend ended badly with a police-involved shootout right on Washington Avenue, with several people hurt and one man killed right in the middle of the street.
"It is more like 20 percent of the arrests are out-of-towners, 80 to 85 percent are actually Dade and Broward and Palm Beach. Ninety-five percent of the guns we take off the street are from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach," said Sgt. Bobby Hernandez of the Miami Beach Police.
As for traffic, Ocean Drive will be closed from 5th Street to 15th Street starting at 7 a.m. Friday until Tuesday morning. Collins Avenue will turn into a one-way street for the weekend, between 5th and 15th Streets.
Each night, Washington Avenue also becomes a one-way street between 5th and 15th Streets.
The biggest change this year, particularly for people who live on South Beach and especially the many who end up leaving the area for the weekend because of all the chaos, is residents need to show proof they live in the areas between Washington Avenue and Alton Road from Lincoln Road down to Government Cut.
Also, police will have a DUI checkpoint set up Friday night on the MacArthur Causeway until Saturday morning at 5 a.m., as well as DUI enforcement throughout the weekend.
Meanwhile, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport an average of 66,000 travelers were expected each day during the holiday weekend and 110,000 were expected at Miami International Airport each day.
Canadian traveler Kali Zurek said she travels quite a bit and wasn't expecting so many travelers accompanying her.
"It's was a lot busier than normal," Zurek said. "It's all pretty expensive too, but hopefully it will be worth it."