Police and officials prepare for influx of people, traffic to Miami Beach. Max Sklar, director of Miami Beach's Tourism, Culture & Economic Development office, and Miami Beach Police Lieutenant Julio Yero comment.
South Beach is synonymous with fun, and that experience has drawn tens of thousands to Miami Beach every Memorial Day holiday for Urban Beach Weekend.
At a planning meeting Monday, officials said police will be right alongside beachgoers to ensure a safe celebration this year.
"We do want everyone to come and have a good time," said Max Sklar, director of Miami Beach's Tourism, Culture & Economic Development office. "Follow the laws and have a good time, and we would say that on any other weekend."
Miami Beach Police plan to close Ocean Drive all holiday weekend, and revive a traffic loop that keeps cars moving along 5th Street, Washington, and Collins Avenues and into parking garages, but not away from bars and businesses, on what has become one of their biggest money-making weekends.
"What we're trying to avoid are the, what we call, 'cruisers' that do laps just over and over the city, congesting the ones that want to come here and enjoy an evening out," said Miami Beach Police Lieutenant Julio Yero.
Almost three years ago, the celebration fizzled, after police shot and killed a man suspected of firing a weapon. Bystanders were also injured. Last year, Rudy Eugene mauled the face of homeless man Ronald Poppo on the MacArthur Causeway. This holiday, the city plans to boost police patrols, and even add extra lights to dark areas to reduce crime, or something much worse.
"We always have contingency plans for large crowds, and for all of our events, we expect the best and plan for the worst," Sklar pointed out.
City officials told NBC 6 South Florida a Mother's Day Parade shooting in New Orleans that left 19 injured, and the Boston Marathon bombings have played roles in their policing plans for the Memorial Day Weekend, though they would not release details. The festivities are scheduled to begin Friday, May 24th.
For more information call the Miami Beach tourism hotline at 305-673-7400 or visit www.miamibeachfl.gov.
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