Holiday weekend at South Beach slower than average

Police, volunteers had fewer problems, arrests.

SOUTH BEACH, Fla. - As the party on South Beach came to an end Monday, the measure of the weekend's success depends on who's doing the measuring.

Police and volunteers, called Goodwill Ambassadors, said the smaller turnout meant fewer problems and fewer arrests.

"Just the way we planned it. Very successful," said Goodwill Ambassador Edward Harris.

Samuel Santibanez, an employee at Budget Rent-A-Car, said out-of-towners kept him busy.

"Business has been good," he said.

But some tourists said the increased police presence drove away crowds and took away some of the fun.

"They're all over the place. Every aisle you turn, every corner, they're there," said visitor Sasha Forges.

Some restaurant owners on Ocean Drive said thinned-out crowds meant less business.

"We were expecting a big crowd. Instead it was extremely quiet," said Paolo Moschini, the manager at Bellini Italian Bistro.

Hotspots for locals, like Oliver's Bistro on West Avenue, were left with empty tables as well.

"We do 450 to 500 people every Sunday when the local people are around. However, yesterday, surprisingly, it was 220 people, which was unusual for us," said manager Hasan Senyurt.

Oliver's remained open and drew a good crowd Monday. But a few restaurants closed down altogether, like Giotto's Pizza on West Avenue and Toni's Sushi Bar on Washington Avenue.

Still, for many people visiting from out of town, no matter the crowd size, the palm trees and the neon haven't lost their luster yet.

"I like the drinks on the beach. You can't do that at home," said Nel Normil, a visitor from Boston.

"Oh yeah, I'm coming back. There's no place like Miami," said Houson native Jonas Porter.

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