MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Memorial Day always drives in beach parties in Miami Beach, but this year a LGBTQ human rights conference will take place in addition to the inaugural National Salute to America’s Heroes Air and Sea Show.
City officials said that the air and sea show, which is sure to draw thousands to the beach, is a family friendly event.
“It being the first year of the air and sea show we don’t have a template on how to handle it, so we’re doing our best to anticipate when the crowds will be here and how to manage what we think the biggest challenge will be, which is traffic,” Chief Dan Oates said.
Oates said that all 390 officers with this department will be working during Memorial Day Weekend, in addition to 150 officers from around the county.
In past years Memorial Day Weekend had a reputation on the beach of being rowdy and at times dangerous.
Seven years ago Raymond Herisse was shot and killed during a controversial police-involved shooting.
Officials have said the safety and vibe on the beach has improved.
“Arrests have gone down,” City Manager Jimmy Morales said. “And in the past couple of years (you’ve seen) families out and around midnight. That inspired us to say ‘We can make this work.’ We’re changing the narrative in a positive way.”
During the holiday weekend Ocean Drive will only a pedestrian-only zone from 7 a.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Monday.
In addition from 7 p.m. Friday until Monday at 7 a.m. Washington Avenue will be southbound traffic only from Fifth Street to 15th Street and Collins Avenue will be northbound only from Fifth Street to 17th Street.
“I think we can manage it Morales said. “I think it’s good for the hotels and the tourism economy. We’ve had a tough last year and I think trying to get our locals to come back to this beautiful 7-mile swath of beach and enjoy it is important. So I think we can make it work.”