MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Thousands of spring breakers have descended on beaches across South Florida on St. Patrick’s Day, kicking off a festive weekend.
Revelers and tourists strolled down Ocean Drive as music blared steps away on the sand, Friday afternoon.
“We’re ready to party. Whatever’s going on, yeah, we’re there,” said Joylia Crawford, who is visiting from Atlanta.
“I can see the palm trees. Back home it’s raining; down here it’s sunny,” said Awa Seck, who is visiting from Washington, D.C.
7SkyForce flew high above the large crowds on the sand.
“We expect tens of thousands, probably even more than that, hundreds of thousands of people coming here,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
With that amount of tourists heading to the popular destination, city leaders said, they don’t want a repeat of the crime and chaos South Beach has seen in recent years. This is why they have increased the police presence and organized special events using Miami Beach Live, which hosts concerts, a professional volleyball tournament at a pop-up stadium and a massive, 1,000-foot inflatable obstacle course.
“We’re trying to create activations, so that people have something to do rather than gel together in huge groups of block parties,” said Gelber.
Some spring breakers who spoke with 7News said they’re pleased with the city’s new crowd control initiative.
“I feel like some people go overboard when they get here, thinking like, ‘Oh, it’s Miami spring break,’ you know what I mean?” said Florida International University student Laila Lyon. “So that’s why a whole bunch of fights break out and shootings and stuff like that, which is actually very sad.”
Over on the MacArthur Causeway, eastbound traffic was bumper-to-bumper just after 4 p.m.
Miami Beach Police said there have been no major incidents to date related to spring break.
North of the county line, 7SkyForce hovered above thousands of revelers partying on Fort Lauderdale Beach, just east of A1A. Steps away, along Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, people were celbrating St. Patrick’s Day at several bars.
Officers with Fort Lauderdale Police Mounted Patrol were seen nearby ensuring order is kept and assisting people who need help.
West of A1A, hundreds of people were seen gathered poolside at a hotel.
There are no open containers, tents or amplified music allowed on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
After the sun went down, spring breakers hit the bars.
“It’s so much fun,” said a young man. “There’s just so many college students. I mean, like, being around all the kids your age is so much fun.”
The high volume of revelers caused some slowdowns on A1A.
Cameras showed Fort Lauderdale Police cruisers along the roadway to keep crowds in check.
Visitors from Toronto were a little overwhelmed by the big crowds.
“A bit crazy, I’m not going to lie, but you know what? They’re all having a good time,” said Joanne Henry, “and there’s tons of police officers; it seems very safe. They’re letting off steam and having a good time.”
Henry and her family found plenty of other ways to enjoy Fort Lauderdale for a few days.
“Honestly, we didn’t leave the resort. We went out for ice cream and dinner; that’s pretty much it,” she said.
Police encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to call them immediately.
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