Dear Miami Beach residents: stick around during Urban Beach Week.
It's pretty sad when businesses on a normally bustling Lincoln Road are empty; aren't those haunts you normally frequent?
We think they are.
My husband and I went out on our usual Sunday night tour and were surprised to see all the empty seats on Lincoln Road. Our friends who work the bars and restaurants suffer when you, fellow neighbors, are not there.
After we hit Lincoln Road, we walked to Ocean Drive. As South Beachers, that wasn't outside the realm of our normal night. This Sunday, though, the whole street was shut down to traffic for Urban Beach Week revelers.
And, guess what?
We had a blast.
We met a guy from Atlanta at Mangos who reminded me of my hubby's girl-crazy little brother, a couple of young women from New Jersey who were having a girls' weekend away from their husbands, and a group of guys who were Redskins fans (yay! Sorry, I'm a D.C. native).
We asked one visitor what he thought of the scene, and he said, "Much better than last year."
That one quote is not, by any means, a scientific analysis of how the traffic blockages and police presence was received by visitors.
But, from my perspective of a South Beach resident, Urban Beach Week was mostly a success.
So, what's keeping people away? Likely the reputation that the weekend got from shootings and police incidents from years' past.
Let go of that. Embrace the visitors. Lead them to Lincoln Road and to places where they can spend money and have fun.
Let cabs travel through residential zones to pick folks up. Make parking garages, like the one at 6th and Alton, more well-known so folks can park and then cab or walk to where they want to be.
We're getting there.
But, as someone who loves South Beach, I think we ought to do a better job of helping visitors know we want them here.
The first step in doing that: be here.
You might just have a little fun.