Spring Break Vibe Still Dominates Miami Beach, Business Says

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The long Memorial Day weekend brought out an excuse to party during a number of events on the beach and the spring break type of atmosphere the city of Miami Beach wanted to move away from is definitely still there.

Miami Beach has made no secret their goal to change the narrative of Memorial Day weekend. To some extent, said Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates, it’s working.

“I saw evidence of it being more of a family atmosphere than prior years,” he said. “And then you layer on an air show, which is very much a family event, and all you had to do was be on the beach today and see all the families and kids swimming, and everyone ‘oohing’ and ‘awing’ when the jets are flying over head.”

Noticeably smaller this year were the crowds but crime was also down, as well.

“Right now, at this point, last Memorial Day weekend we had something like 117 arrests. By this point this year, we have 63. I think that translates into a 46% decrease,” said Chief Oates.

However, for some, like Sherbrooke Hotel owner Mitch Novick, it’s not enough.

“It’s the same spring break mentality, which the city embraces, and refuses to address the businesses along Ocean Drive,” Novick said. “They purvey alcohol, they’re noisy, they’re creating a circus, a never-ending circus on the street.”

Hip Hop Weekend, the Air and Sea Show and what was supposed to be the World OutGames were marred by a shooting down the street on 6th and Collins Avenue.

An officer on foot heard the shots and responded. Within minutes, dozens of offers were on the scene and four people were detained.

“There is a lot of components as part of our canvassing,” said Miami Beach officer Ernesto Rodriguez. “Whether it be through surveillance and just speaking with people, as well as our preliminary interviews with those who may have been involved, which has us confident that we have the shooter in our custody.”

Police questioned the detainees and tested their hands for gunshot residue.

Police confirm one of the four fired a gun and blood at the scene suggests someone was wounded. Police, however, didn’t find the victim at the scene.

“We did locate blood nearby,” said officer Rodriguez. “There may be a potential victim or subject, we don’t know. We want to speak with them and piece together exactly what happened.”

The shooting took place while thousands are in Miami Beach for Urban Hip Hop Weekend and the Air and Sea Show.

“I was out this morning on the beach enjoying the Air and Sea Show, and residents were loving it so, unfortunately, something like this will taint the Air and Sea Show and it’s just sad,” said Miami Beach resident Michael DeFilippi.

City officials were also working behind the scenes to restore many of the World OutGames sporting events that were cancelled at the last minute.

Athletes from around the world found out about the cancellation only after arriving in Miami Beach. No opening and closing ceremonies and most of the sporting events were cancelled.

Within a 24-hour span, the city put together the field hockey tournament and relocated the indoor basketball and volleyball tournaments.

A Miami Beach city manager says he sounded the alarm back in March and tried to assist with staffing and resources, but funding may have been the issue for the organizers.

Late Friday night, the city said that due to the potential misappropriation of funds, the Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office are opening a fraud investigation.

“All we know is that there are hundreds of thousands of public money, city, state, maybe county, not to mention private dollars that were raised. We heard anywhere between $800,000 to $900,000,” said Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales. “Where did it go?”

The city and GMCVB are holding a reception Wednesday night, at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

A lot of the business and cultural partners are also offering free and discounted admissions and services to the athletes.

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