Every year I sit through Miami Beach’s Memorial Day Weekend (MDW) and think of my grandfather, a Korean War vet and Naval Seabee.
As I spent five hours in our entertainment district on MDW Saturday night, watching folks drinking and flashing, all I could think of was how the meaning of this weekend has been completely lost.
Newsflash: Memorial Day is not simply a holiday. It isn’t supposed to be a day of recreation and debauchery. It isn’t Independence Day, Labor Day, or New Year’s Eve. It is a day of reflection and remembrance. It is a day to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, a sacrifice that does not discriminate.
For 16-plus years, hundreds of thousands of annual visitors have chosen Miami Beach as a place to party during MDW. Although we welcome most of them with open arms, many have chosen this time to victimize others. Fortunately we saw a decrease in criminal activity the two years leading up to last week, but we have now experienced an uptick in both arrests and rescue calls.
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I bring you the 2017 Miami Beach Air and Sea Show, a Memorial Day Weekend, an appropriate salute to those who have fought and/or died for our freedom. I sponsored this event after watching over a decade and half of city officials simply corralling crowds with militarized police instead of implementing positive programming for our guests and residents.
Our city already spends over $1.7 million on police, fire and sanitation during MDW, with many residents making their annual escape to elsewhere. It is time to stop wasting tax dollars in an effort to simply mitigate a weekend that has turned into something Miami Beach residents and businesses loathe.
I look forward to finally giving our city something to look forward to next year. Our residents and businesses deserve nothing less.
Michael C. Grieco,
commissioner, Miami Beach