More coolness, less foolishness.
That summarizes what some tourists and South Beach business owners said Tuesday about this year’s South Beach version of Memorial Day Weekend.
“It was lit,” said Justice Garcia of Salem, Mass., as she stood on the corner of Ocean Drive and 11th Street with her luggage.
“This my fourth time coming, my best time,” said Brandon Anderson of New Jersey, whose weekend, he said, consisted of “Just drink, mess with the girls.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Alex Haxhaj, a manager at The Palace Bar on Ocean Drive, said, “It was a lot better, a lot calmer [than previous years]. There wasn’t a lot of craziness or fights or obnoxiousness.”
Like many Miami Beach establishments whose clientele tends to be locals, The Palace actually sees business drop slightly during Memorial Day weekend, Haxhaj said. Beach residents either leave town or avoid the Washington Avenue-Collins Avenue-Ocean Drive area altogether.
Tuesday morning, however, several Ocean Drive restaurant staffs hopped about at a brisk pace as those checking out of hotels grabbed one last meal in the Miami sun before heading back home.
The sands of Miami Beach, which resembled garbage trucks’ dump yards after Spring Break this year, looked about as they normally do on a Tuesday morning. Asked if that meant the cleanup crews got going early or folks cleaned up after themselves better, a beach chair attendant credited the latter.
“The people were very friendly,” Adriana Gimenez said. “Where I’m from, they’re not as friendly.”
And where is that?
One couple from Chicago, downing their first ever colada outside the Ritz-Carlton, found local law enforcement so nice compared to Chicago’s they thought Miami Beach police must be using troops fresh out of the academy.
Miami Beach police have rarely escaped a Memorial Day Weekend with an unscathed reputation.
Miami Beach residents have complained about cops’ presence making the city feel like a police state, while others complain about lax enforcement allowing brawls that make Ocean Drive look like a riot zone.
And since Miami Beach became a Memorial Day destination for the young, hip and hip-hop, there’s been accusations of overzealous confrontations with a mostly African-American crowd.
This year, the general impression was Miami Beach police got it right.
“There were more police this time,” said Kevin James of New Jersey. “I felt more secure. It was cool.”
Miami Beach police arrest numbers for the weekend, counted as Thursday through Monday, combine all arrests in all parts of the city. This year’s 195 arrests represented an increase of 50 over 2015, ending a two-year downward trend after 2013’s peak of 414.
While 61 felony arrests were greater than those in 2012, ’14 and ’15, only four were for aggravated assault or aggravated battery. Those felonies accounted for 13 arrests in 2015 and seven in 2014.