Businesses Ready Themselves for Memorial Day Weekend

This year, the city will use new safety tactics to control massive crowds and avoid last year's deadly shooting that left one dead and seven others injured

By Betty Yu
|  Sunday, May 20, 2012  |  Updated 2:26 PM EDT
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An estimated 200,000 people are expected to turn out for the annual Urban Beach weekend. Tourists and business owners tell NBC 6 how they are preparing for the weekend.

An estimated 200,000 people are expected to turn out for the annual Urban Beach weekend. Tourists and business owners tell NBC 6 how they are preparing for the weekend.

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In just a few days, strolling along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach won't be such a walk in the park.

An estimated 200,000 people are expected to turn out for the annual Urban Beach weekend that in years past has turned rowdy and at times gotten out of control.

"Next week everyone is going to be packed like sardines,” said Shakila Marshall, a tourist from New Jersey who came down a week ahead of the popular festivities. “There's no need for all of that, it's too hot to be near that many people at one time."

To control traffic, Ocean Drive will be closed through Memorial Day Weekend and Collins and Washington avenues will become one-way northbound and southbound roads, respectively.

"I've heard about Memorial Weekend down here in Miami. I don't want to be a part of that kind of environment so we decided to come this weekend instead," said Antigua Sutton a tourist from New Jersey.

This year, the city will use new safety tactics to control massive crowds and avoid last year's deadly shooting that left one dead and seven others injured.

Party-goers will see a heavy police presence, more lighting and DUI checkpoints. License tag readers will scan just about every car that enters the beach, police said. They will also flag stolen cars and check for criminal warrants.

"Years ago it used to be out of control but I think the police - as years go on - they're learning, they're learning," said Richard Griffiths, manager at The Pelican Café.

Griffiths has worked at the restaurant for the past 14 years. He said he'll add security at the restaurant and hotel, but welcomes the business.

"The worst customer is no customer," he added.

Down the street on Ocean Drive, tourist shops are banking on the extra cash.

"After being here for so many years, and having many different businesses on the beach, I enjoy it, it's an opportunity for people all around the United States to come and enjoy everything that Miami has to offer," said Rob Miller from Sobe Tour Info and Beach Paradise Hotel.

Urban Beach weekend will begin May 24.

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