World

A Georgia beach aims to disrupt Black students’ spring bash after big crowds brought chaos in 2023

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. — Thousands of Black college students expected this weekend for an annual spring bash at Georgia’s largest public beach will be greeted by dozens of extra police officers and barricades closing off neighborhood streets. While the beach will remain open, officials are blocking access to nearby parking.


Tybee Island east of Savannah has grappled with the April beach party known as Orange Crush since students at Savannah State University, a historically Black school, started it more than 30 years ago. Residents regularly groused about loud music, trash littering the sand and revelers urinating in yards.


Those complaints boiled over into fear and outrage a year ago when record crowds estimated at more than 100,000 people overwhelmed the 3-mile island. That left a small police force scrambling to handle a flood of emergency calls reporting gunfire, drug overdoses, traffic jams and fist fights.


Mayor Brian West, elected last fall by Tybee Island’s 3,100 residents, said roadblocks and added police aren’t just for limiting crowds. He hopes the crackdown will drive Orange Crush away for good.