Thursday, April 18, 2024

In wake of $300K college weekend bill, smaller North End party trashes beach, angers residents

City officials cleaned the beach near 81st Street after hundreds of college students left trash near residences after a party.
City officials cleaned the beach near 81st Street after hundreds of college students left trash near homes after a party. (Casey Wagner/Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Following the $300,000 aftermath of College Beach Weekend, a smaller party disrupted the North End of Virginia Beach, upsetting residents and resulting in more than 50 parking tickets and criminal summonses. 

Between 400 and 500 Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University students partied on 81st Street on June 10, said event organizer Darien Grant.

The party — dubbed Dusapalooza — was a promotional event for Grant’s clothing line “Dusa America.” Grant, an ODU student, used Twitter and a promotional video to advertise the party.

A Twitter search of the hashtag #Dusapalooza shows pictures of large crowds of people drinking alcohol, dancing and even two women fighting in the sand.

Grant said the group partied on the beach from about 4:30-8:30 p.m., but they didn’t stay overnight in Virginia Beach hotels or rental properties.

Grant hosted a similar, smaller event at 81st Street last year.

“Last year it was about 100 people at the beach, if that,” Grant said. “Then this year I decided to promote the party a whole month ahead of time.”

The Virginia Beach Police Department say they saw the promotion for the event on social media but were unable to get in contact with Grant before the party, according to an email obtained by Southside Daily from VBPD Captain M.P. Ronan.

The day of the party, police spoke to Grant and told him that alcohol wasn’t allowed on the beach. Officers stayed on site throughout the party. They didn’t shut down the party, but addressed people individually if they thought they were breaking the law, Grant said.

“I tried to distribute alcohol at the beginning, but the police told me I wasn’t allowed. People definitely brought their own alcohol and drank it on the beach,” Grant said.

“The police let us have as much fun as we could within boundaries … I went up to them every 30 minutes or so and said, ‘Hey sir, are we doing ok?’ and they would say, ‘Yeah, go have fun,'” Grant added.

Many North End residents were angry about the party, reporting the event to police and venting their frustrations on a neighborhood forum called Nextdoor.

“No one knew what was going on. There were so many young people, loud music and trash,” North End resident Patti Gandy wrote in an email to Southside Daily.

According to the VBPD, there were 18 calls for service during the party, but no arrests were made. Most of the calls involved disorderly conduct and intoxicated people, said VBPD Master Police Officer Linda Kuehn.

According to Ronan’s email, more than 20 parking tickets and 35 criminal summonses were issued during the party.

“A large majority of the persons attending were very polite with the police officers and complying with their [officer] requests and/or directions,” he wrote.

Still, there was a “great deal of trash and debris” left on the beach after partygoers went home, Ronan wrote.

“We contacted our City’s Landscape Services/Beach Operations and requested the beach be cleaned up,” he added.

The city cleaning up after an event it didn’t fund or plan didn’t surprise Gandy, who said that Virginia Beach government doesn’t do anything to prevent large public parties.

“Whenever destruction happens, we end up paying for it, not the promoters,” she said.

Grant didn’t deny that the revelers left trash on the beach, but said that police didn’t ask him to clean up afterward.

“I’m not going to sit here and try to say that we didn’t do that,” Grant said. “I feel badly because that is their beach at the end of the day, but, I mean, all I can do is say ‘I’m sorry.'”

Dusapalooza came less than two months after College Beach Weekend, an April event that draws tens of thousands of people to the resort section of the Oceanfront every year. Damages and overtime pay for VBPD officers after College Beach Weekend cost the city about $300,000 this year, said Police Chief James Cervera.

While College Beach Weekend attendees generally stay on the south side of the beach, the 81st Street party took place in a residential area of the Oceanfront.

Similar to how the city cannot ban College Beach Weekend, police are also unable to prohibit private parties like Dusapalooza.

“We can’t and don’t prohibit people from using our public beaches, but we will continue to patrol, monitor and properly address any issues at the North End area and the rest of the second precinct as best as possible,” Ronan wrote.

And Grant said that despite numerous complaints and the large mess, he plans to throw Dusapalooza again next year.

“Basically, next year I’ll do it more professionally,” he said. “I’ll have trash cans around. At the end of the day, that’s all I can do.”

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