Skip to comments.Galveston Beach Party Invades Island
Posted on 04/21/2002 3:52:35 PM PDT by GalvestonGal.com
Thursday Afternoon - Galveston officials are prepared for Beach Party Weekend. Special Events Coordinator Paula Ozymy says this year's event is different than in previous years. Listen
Friday morning was quiet in Galveston, on the Seawall, Broadway and at the Ferry Landing.
Friday at 2 p.m. a few tourists enjoyed the amenities of the Strand Historic District.
KUHF Houston Public Radio Friday PM -- City of Galveston officials are braced for the influx of thousands of young people for beach party weekend. Jim Guidry says changes have been made to mitigate problems in past years. Listen
Friday at 4 p.m., Beach Party Weekend Crowds were beginning to build, while some regular beachfront users continued their activities.
Early Friday evening, Event Coordinator Paula Ozymy reported in after a tour of the beachfront. Listen
Friday at 8:30 p.m. Guidry News Service Reporter Daniel Eksuzian visited the Seawall. This is his report:
Beach Party Weekend is underway but at about 8:30 Friday night, the corner of 45th and Seawall had only light to moderate traffic. A few groups of people were congregated around the Coastal Mart where the visitors seemed to be having a good time with music, laughter, and some great paint jobs on tricked-out vehicles adding to the festivities.
Except for the Academy Sporting Goods store, the other businesses in the area were closed and barriers setup to control traffic. There was a small group of Police Officers gathered in front of the Academy riding quad runners or on foot. Two vehicles had been stopped by police briefly in the area.
Not only visitors to the Island were enjoying the beautiful evening. A gathering of friends at an area residence were also sitting outside and enjoying good BBQ and pleasant company.
Friday at 9 p.m. crowds were building on the Seawall. There were few people downtown.
Saturday at 7 a.m. - Broadway Boulevard, which was bumper to bumper all night long, was lined with cars loaded with young people. There were few people on Seawall Boulevard. Many of the young people camped out overnight in the Jack Tar property at 6th at Broadway
Saturday at 9 a.m.- Police Chief Bob Pierce reviews the first night of Beach Party Weekend. Listen
Saturday at 1 p.m. - Seawall Boulevard, Broadway, the Jack Tar property, East Beach, and other places where Beach Party visitors gathered, were packed.
Saturday at 4 p.m. - Beach Party Weekend visitors continued to cross the Causeway as the Seawall and Broadway continued to fill with the young partiers. Jim and Lynda Guidry set out to find fresh seafood and were successful.
Saturday at 6 p.m. - Mayor Roger Quiroga says the crowds are "more subdued" than last year. Listen
Saturday at 7 p.m. - As the Sun began to set on Galveston, Beach Party Visitors continued to pack Galveston Island.
Listen to a stealth mike placed in an oleander bush on the Broadway esplanade at 10th Street.
Saturday at 11 p.m. - These photos were taken in the 900 Block of Broadway.
Sunday at 9 a.m. - Galveston is quiet, but littered with tons of trash.
Sunday at 11 a.m. - Mayor Roger Quiroga reports on the Saturday night sweep, and talks about prospects for Sunday afternoon. Listen
More photos will be posted throughout the weekend. Emailed photographs will be published on this page, with credit. Please state the date and time the pictures were taken and include permission to publish in your email. Send to: BeachPartyWeekend@guidrynews.com.
Excuse the list of "topics", but I kept getting "this topic doesn't exist, and so I just clicked a bunch of them.
I'm reporting this story because it is an absolute invasion of destructive and unwelcome cruisers. Local government and letters to the editor always get divided along racial lines - if you complain you are a racist. It just won't go away.
You and me, TA79, you and me!
While thousands of tourist visit, even for festivals drawing more than 100K, islanders can still function.
Beach Party shuts down the whole freakin' island. For TWO days. The ONLY people who get to move around are the 250K people in their cars, who drink, litter, trash hotel rooms, walk checks in the restaurants, shake the houses with their boom boxes, and have sex in public.
That's cold, but you prove one of my points.
One way to profit from the weekend is to make videos of the sex acts and sell them on the internet. Someone like me who makes maps of the Historic Strand shops has to get all sorts of permits, yet there is NO business in the Historic areas.
April 17, 2002, 12:17AM
Galveston ready for huge crowds to party on Isle
By KEVIN MORAN
Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle
GALVESTON -- This island city's East Beach is expected to be packed, beginning Friday, with thousands of college students and others who swarm to Galveston each April for Beach Party Weekend.
NOTE: THERE ARE VERY FEW COLLEGE STUDENTS
And if the pattern from past years holds true, thousands more will keep Seawall Boulevard almost solid with cars as they cruise the beachfront.
VERY FEW ARE ON THE BEACH. THIS COULD JUST AS WELL TAKE PLACE ON A CONCRETE RACE TRACK.
Authorities say the influx could total as many as a quarter-million people -- but Galveston will be ready.
GALVESTON HAS A THREE DAY WATER STORAGE AND RUNS TO A ONE DAY SUPPLY ON HEAVY WEEKENDS - WE WILL BE PAYING FOR EXTRA WATER TO BE STORED STARTING TOMMOROW. "We're looking for as smooth and orderly an event as we've ever had," Police Chief Bob Pierce said Tuesday. "We want people to arrive on the island, enjoy their visit and get home safely."
Unlike the past two years, drivers will not be charged to cruise the seawall this weekend. Instead of trying to recoup the estimated $375,000 it will take to manage, police and clean up after the event by letting a promoter provide entertainment and charge drivers to get on the seawall, the city is using tax dollars.
JUST READ THIS PARAGRAPH AGAIN. IT SAYS IT ALL.
"They can cruise for free this year," said city special events coordinator Paula Ozymy. "But there will be no vendors on the seawall other than established businesses that want to set up in their parking lots and sell outside what they usually sell inside."
SO MUCH FOR CITIZENS WANTING TO MAKE A LITTLE MONEY OUT OF THE "TOURISTS"
City officials and Houston-based promoters who have organized the entertainment are hoping thousands of people will pay $20 per car on Friday and $30 per car on Saturday and Sunday to park at East Beach, where the attractions will include continuous music; basketball, domino and other tournaments; and bikini and hard-body contests.
THIS IS JUST SO MUCH "BARBARA STRIESAND"! THESE PROMOTERS ARE ALL A BUNCH OF CON ARTISTS.
The huge party began in the early 1980s as an informal gathering of a few hundred fraternity members and alumni from black colleges in the region. It has grown rapidly in recent years.
THIS IS TRUE AND IT WAS JUST FINE AND NOBODY HAD A PROBLEM WITH IT. IT WAS JUST LIKE ANY OTHER BIG WEEKEND.
Local officials have issued pleas this week for Beach Party revelers to get to Galveston as early as possible in hopes of avoiding the lines of afternoon traffic that can back up, three lanes wide, across the Interstate 45 causeway and several miles toward Houston.
TOO BAD IF AN AMBULANCE IS COMING FROM THE MAINLAND INTO UTMB - THE STATE'S INDIGENT CARE HOSPITAL AND SHRINE BURNS UNIT.
Nobody knows how many people to expect Saturday, but Pierce said as many as 250,000 have attended Beach Party Weekend on Saturdays in years past.
WE ARE A NORMAL POPULATION OF 60k WITH BIG WEEKENDS AND FESTIVALS OF 150k.
Still, he said, he expects the city to cope well with the crowds.
Along with more than 100 Galveston police, the city has hired 300 officers from other agencies to help out. They'll be backed up by about 100 state troopers.
YEAH, BY PAYING FOR 3-5 HUNDRED EXTRA COPS. THE CITY ALSO HAS TO PAY FOR THEIR HOTEL AND FOOD BILLS.
A city ordinance banning alcohol consumption on the seawall will be strictly enforced, Pierce said, along with bans on glass containers on the seawall and beaches.
"We will arrest people for public intoxication, lewdness and disorderly conduct," he added.
SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - ONLY THE THING IS - THE HUNDREDS OF COPS ARE BASICALLY JUST TRYING TO KEEP THE TRAFFIC MOVING AND CHASING THE MUGS WHO SHOOT GUNS FROM THEIR CARS.
Just as police clear the downtown Strand area late at night during Mardi Gras, they will sweep the seawall clear of partiers at 1 a.m. Sunday, Pierce said. If crowds and traffic warrant it, he said, police will clear the seawall at 1 a.m. Saturday, too.
The traffic plan used in recent years is to go into effect early Saturday, he said, but could be used Friday night if traffic gets heavy.
While the city has planned carefully for the party, City Manager Steve LeBlanc said it presents serious logistical problems for residents, employers and public safety officials.
NUMEROUS LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS FOR...SUCH AS GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE AND THE PHARMACY. TOO BAD IF YOUR CHILD HAS AN EAR INFECTION FOR TWO DAYS.
"I've got citizens on the island who are concerned about, for example, getting to their dialysis treatments through the traffic," LeBlanc said. "We're a small community that's handling a party that's too large for us."
MUCH LESS YOUR DIALYSIS TREATMENTS OR GOING TO CHURCH.
Of particular concern is the ability of about 2,000 people to depart the Port of Galveston aboard the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas at 5 p.m. Sunday.
NOW WE ARE GETTING TO WHERE IT REALLY HURTS. THERE ARE FEW IF ANY FAMILY OR HIGH DOLLAR TOURISTS ON THE ISLAND. IF THEY HAVE EVER GOTTEN CAUGHT HERE ON BEACH PARTY WEEKEND THEY SWEAR THEY WILL NEVER RETURN AND TELL ALL THEIR FRIENDS ABOUT IT TOO.
"We want them to realize that they may face very heavy traffic," LeBlanc said. Passengers should exit I-45 at Harborside Drive and turn left onto Harborside toward the port and cruise ship terminal, he said.
BASICALLY IT IS JUST BEST NOT TO COME TO THE ISLAND OR STAY HOME ALL WEEKEND.
Port spokeswoman Judy Slocum said the port has warned Royal Caribbean Cruises to inform passengers of potential traffic problems and has posted information on the port's Web site, www.portofgalveston.com.
YEAH RIGHT! TWO THOUSAND PASSENGERS ARE GOING TO TOTALLY FREAK OUT.
University of Texas Medical Branch employees who live off the island were advised to plan so they can get to work on time at the large medical center on the island's east end.
TWO DAYS AGO THERE WAS A THREE ALARM FIRE ON TOP OF THE PRISON HOSTPITAL. FIREFIGHTERS WERE GREAT, NO ONE WAS BADLY HURT. WHAT IF IT HAD HAPPENED THIS WEEKEND? THE ONLY WAY EMERGENCY PERSONNEL CAN GET AROUND IS ON ABOUT THREE STREETS MANNED BY TRAFFIC POLICE. TO GET INTO THE BEACH RIOT AREAS WHERE WOMEN ARE BEING ASSAULTED, THEY HAVE TO USE HELICOPTERS.
In years past, some seawall restaurants and other businesses have closed after being overwhelmed by Beach Party crowds and losing money when people left without paying food bills. Others have closed because Beach Party visitors didn't patronize their dining rooms or because employees couldn't get to work.
GAIDO'S IS ONE OF THE TEXAS COAST'S BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS -LINES OUT THE DOOR KIND OF PLACE. LAST YEAR THEY SET A NEW RECORD - ZERO - PATRONS. THEY STAYED OPEN BECAUSE THE CITY MANAGER HAD ISSUED A STATEMENT TELLING MERCHANTS THAT IF THEY CLOSED, THEY MIGHT BE SUBJECT TO DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS.
"One time we were open and we just didn't get much business," said Raul Lopez, manager of Nate's Steakhouse at 13th Street and Seawall. "We closed early, and ever since then we never opened again (during Beach Party)."
Peggy Sharretts, co-owner of the Ocean Grill Restaurant and Bar at 23rd Street and Seawall, said the business will close Friday evening and reopen Monday morning.
"The traffic is just incredibly difficult to move around," she said. "We just do not do any business, and that has been true every year."
Pierce said hotel guests and pedestrians can use shuttles that will run along the seawall Saturday and Sunday.
Shuttles will take people to the beachfront from lots at 47th Street and Broadway and near 6th Street and Broadway. The East Beach parking area will accommodate about 7,000 vehicles, and Stewart Beach will accommodate about 2,500.
250K DIVIDED BY ABOUT 4 OCCUPANTS = 62,500 VEHICLES. WOW, AND THERE IS PARKING FOR 9K. THE REMAINDER CRUISE IN CIRCLES EMITTING SMOG AND WINDOW RATTLING RAP/HATE MUSIC.
East Beach events will run from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, a Powerplay Productions spokeswoman said.
Food and souvenir vendors also will be there.
People heading for East Beach also can park at Stewart Beach, at 6th Street and Seawall, for $20 on Friday and $30 on Saturday and Sunday and take shuttles to East Beach.
Another option is to ride the shuttles for $4 per person and pay $5 to enter the Beach Party area.
Dallas-based Out-the-Box Entertainment has lined up musical entertainment and scheduled other activities at three private beachfront locations: the former Voodoo Daddy's club, Club D'Elegance and the Victorian Condominium Hotel. Tickets that will allow holders to attend events at those locations all weekend are available for $35 through Ticketmaster outlets. One-day tickets are $15 at the door.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HOST THIS IN YOUR TOWN?
It's like I started out, if you complain you are labeled a racist, but it's NOT about that. It's about an invasion of people who trash and pillage for two days.
When I was first posting, I kept losing my "post format" page and so I put the links in Reply #5
The "City Fathers" banned it and so the city worked for about twenty years to turn Galveston back into a family type tourist destination. It's working, except for the annual invasion which takes away thousands of dollars and does retched word of mouth damage.
"City Fathers" are threatened with lawsuits now because this is for black "kids" and we "have no right to inhibit or restrict this demonstration of freedom".
The Mayor just came on the Guidry News link Guidry News -best coverage and pictures and said the best thing this year was that it was smaller and "IT'S OVER"!
Ah, but they do. This two day "event" results in the loss of thousands of dollars every year for the city. And it is not because of race, as some dimwits here have suggested, but because of the disorderly and just plain criminal behavior of the participants.
I certainly have the impression that the people of Galveston would be a lot happier if the "Beach Party" was cancelled altogether by the city. Of course, that would bring out the racemongers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Quanell X (a local racemonger) and the NAALCP, and quite possibly lawsuits, but neither the city nor its people should have to be forced to put up with this annual assault.
The people of Galveston have a right to say no. And they should.
They should also rest assured any retalitatory action, such as a boycott or a lawsuit, will result in people coming from miles around just to pump dollars in the economy.
We will not stand for the playing of the race card.
We will not be afraid of those who would try to keep us from going to Galveston either by threats, intimidation, or name calling.
And that's the bottom line.
Go for it my man (or gal). The energy here is about that of the women held down by the Taliban.
Freaknik and GBP are compliments to their hosts. People want to go where places are well-kept, pretty, relaxing, public, and fun. Galveston's seawall qualifies.
You are leading by example. You are showing good behavior and you are demonstrating that keeping your town clean makes everyone enjoy it.
That may be one of the few positive examples that many of your guests ever see.
That being said, close enough streets and people will find a more hospitable place to cruise around in their mac'ed out vehicles (and the co-existent problems of lewdness and disorderliness will leave with them).
But for whatever it's worth, Galveston is known as a cool place because so far you haven't thrown the kids out yet.
For me, I like Gaido's, but I have no desire to be anywhere near GBP week. Hazards of living in a tourist town, I guess. We don't have much of that sort of issue out here in 'Bama!
Exactamento. Kids, families, singles looking for fun, fishermen, you name it...are welcomed every day of the year. We have probably a million tourist a year.
But for Freepers who "don't get it", just imagine how you would feel (and how many hours today you would spend on FreeRepublic) if it was your town. You would be yelling with pitchforks down at City Hall. That's just how tolerant we are, but this scene has GOT to stop.
Not at this I hope, the last two years it has become so lewd that anything and everything went on right out in public. Remember, this started out with a Black Fraternity group, and evolved!
Bad behavior always ruins fun things. Years ago in Victoria, Tx. we had "THE FIRST ANNUAL ARMADILLO CONFAB". The next year it was called The second "First Annual Armadillo Confab", and 'etc' for each year.
It became bigger and bigger. Then we started getting the college kids, the 'Hells Angels', and the 'hippy types' with half their rears showing. Finally the city put an end to it, even though it was a huge money-maker.
This was from last week's Houston Press and some people have offered some very revealing quotes (confirming that they don't go to the party to buy souviners and see concerts and that they police don't intend to arrest all violators).
Beach Party Blues
Galveston grapples with economic woes, racial overtones and new ways out of a spring festival
BY SCOTT NOWELL
Tourism drives the Galveston economy, and so it would seem residents would welcome a yearly event that attracts about 150,000 visitors in April. But now city officials are looking to the east -- East Beach, that is -- to try to corral the raging, unwanted beast that has become Beach Party Weekend.
The informal festivities, which begin this year on April 19, draw the ire of a growing number of Galvestonians who say the unruly crowds -- and municipal costs -- add up to an annual disaster.
The event began in the mid-'80s as Kappa Beach Party, a gathering of college students hosted by the historically black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. During the '90s, crowds grew enormously, and the beach event morphed into a cruising spectacle replete with rowdiness, loud music and scenes that would fit perfectly into videos hawked on late-night TV with ads that scream: "These girls are WILD!"
Galveston Police Chief Bob Pierce says most of the 150,000 visitors spend their waking hours cruising a ten-mile wedge formed by the two main streets of Broadway and Seawall Boulevard. An estimated 50,000 vehicles create traffic nightmares that disrupt local life to the extent that dozens of businesses close because their employees can't get to work. Some Galvestonians perceive that they are being held hostage in their own city, and forced to pay for it.
Crowds have become decidedly less collegiate -- Kappa Alpha Psi disassociated itself from the event a few years ago -- and increasingly vocal citizens complain that the event has become little more than an exercise in lawlessness and near-total disregard for island sensibilities.
Clouding the issues of traffic, noise, nudity and littering are allegations of racism. Beach Party attendees are mostly black, and many of Galveston's African-Americans say the carousing is not much different from that of the mostly white or racially mixed crowds that descend on the island during Mardi Gras or spring break. Others say that if Beach Party were a similar gathering of white youths, the event would have been banned long ago. The argument has divided the city along somewhat predictable racial lines.
"I think a lot of [the opposition] is racial," says Dwayne Darden. The 34-year-old Houstonian operates kappabeachfest.com, one of a dozen or so Web sites devoted to Beach Party. "I always try to put myself in the other guy's shoes, and I understand how people might fear a large crowd of blacks invading their town. But it's only for two days, and I think that if they came out and maybe participated a little bit, they might enjoy it."
Meyer Reiswerg, better known as the proprietor of Col. Bubbie's Strand Surplus Senter, agrees that some objections to Beach Party are racially motivated. "But I'm Jewish, and if 150,000 Hasidic Jews came down here and behaved the way these people behaved, I'd be just as opposed to it."
Many merchants say the only attention they pay to color is the red ink on their balance sheets.
Reiswerg's store is located in the downtown Strand District. That normally vibrant area is virtually deserted during Beach Party, because access is often blocked by the traffic jams elsewhere.
"Our season lasts from April to August, and they are taking away one of those 16 weekends we have. That's almost 10 percent of our business," says Reiswerg. "We make our money off tourists, and these people do not act like tourists. They bring their own food and liquor."
Darden agrees that Beach Party participants don't lavish their cash on the locals. "We don't go to Galveston to spend money," he says.
What appears to be beyond dispute is that Beach Party Weekend is a financial loss for the city, while Mardi Gras and spring break rain dollars down upon the island. Paula Ozymy, special events coordinator for the city, says Beach Party costs Galveston's taxpayers about $400,000 for port-a-johns, cleanup and approximately 700 additional police officers.
"I don't really buy that $400,000 figure," says City Councilman Joe Jaworski. "We spend that money, but the hotels are full, and sales tax revenues are up. We don't lose a whole lot of money." But Jaworski acknowledges that the event discourages the family-type tourism that Galveston businesses crave. The city has unsuccessfully attempted to recoup expenses in the past through vendor licensing and a $20 "cruising fee," a plan tried and rejected by state officials because it improperly denied access to public beaches.
This year the city will license no outside vendors, and parking will be banned on Seawall Boulevard. Those who want to go to the beach that weekend will have to park at one of three off-site lots in Galveston and take free city shuttle buses.
Ozymy says an effort is being made to shift Beach Party activities "eastward and beachward." The hope is to gradually move the event to East Beach, miles away from residential areas. Concerts will be held there on Saturday and Sunday, and promoters hope to attract thousands with live music, bikini contests, and basketball and domino tournaments. According to Allan Flores, who has concession rights on East Beach, the plan is "to turn the event into more of a festival." The cost for the all-day gathering will be $30 per vehicle.
However, Darden says, there won't be many takers. "I wouldn't go to a concert there even if it was free." Attempts to attract concert crowds in past years have mostly failed. The reason, says Darden, is that people go to see and be seen. "We go there to cruise, not play dominoes. We are not at all cool with the sectioning off of activity to one secluded section of the beach."
Jim and Lynda Guidry are typical of the event's critics. Their Broadway home provides them with an unwanted front-row seat on the action. The Guidrys, who operate a county news service, say they have seen all they want of the backed-up traffic, drug use, wall-shaking rap music, public nudity, prostitution and deliberate efforts by some partygoers to trash the island.
They have ample support from residents for the group they founded, Citizens for Higher Standards, which calls for an end to the lawlessness and indecency. Darden himself admits that things get wild during the festive weekend, but he says the bedlam is no different from that of "white-oriented" events like Mardi Gras and spring break. The Guidrys say the only solution to the problems of those events is a police crackdown.
"We want our codes and laws enforced 24/7/365," says Lynda Guidry. Her husband says the outnumbered officers could start enforcement action on the Friday night of Beach Party, before most of the crowd arrives, "and if there's a riot, then shut down the island."
Councilman Jaworski reflects the city's dilemma: "If a citizen wants to come down to the city in the free United States of America, then we have a responsibility to provide for public safety." He notes that one critic challenged him to "have the guts" to oppose the event. "I said, 'What do you want me to do? Appeal to a higher being to stand at the bridge and stop them from coming across?' "
Police Chief Pierce says there is a small percentage of "gangsters and wannabes who bring in prostitutes to try and make money" but that the primary problem is simply rowdy behavior. Outside police also are less likely to file formal charges on minor infractions, he concedes.
"We can get all the Houston officers we want," says Pierce. "But they're not necessarily going to write a lot of tickets. They aren't going to want to come back for court."
Jim Guidry says an incident last year illustrates the lack of enforcement. He confronted a man who threw trash near his home. A crowd gathered, and the cop who arrived said he'd been told -- falsely -- that Guidry had made racial remarks. He chided Guidry for "creating a disturbance" and told him to leave.
Also last year, Lynda Guidry says, she approached a prostitute who was negotiating a deal near her house and was told, "Why don't you take your white ass back in the house?"
Area jails could be filled up within a few hours, Pierce concedes, but "that wouldn't solve anything." He lauds the department's approach to the event and notes that other cities with similar festivities sent observers to Galveston to learn how to handle such crowds.
"That weekend is a major nuisance," says Pierce, "but for all the trash and inconvenience, it's just one day. The island is okay -- the houses are still here."