"Orange Crush" is a yearly Spring Break party that attracts thousands of blacks to a tiny seaside community in Georgia.
An online petition and Facebook page to end the Orange Crush gathering has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
But littering is not the only reason residents and visitors have to complain.
According to Tybee police, officers were dispatched during the event to 78 calls for service, with 55 incident reports generated and 18 arrests, including six felony drug charges, one investigation into the discharge of firearms and one high-speed chase.
Fortunately, none of the incidents resulted in anyone being killed or injured, said Police Chief Bob Bryson.
While Orange Crush is often characterized as Savannah State University’s spring break, the event is not sponsored or condoned by the university or any student organization.
Bryson said many of the participants he saw and spoke to were not even students.
“I’m in my mid-40s and I saw guys my age and older,” he said.
SSU’s Division of Student Affairs even discouraged attendance, said Jovita “Marti” Covington, university marketing coordinator.
However, some volunteers from SSU’s Marine Science Club did participate in a beach clean-up the next morning. Ana Reyes, a Marine Sciences major, said she organized the clean-up after attending Orange Crush last year and being turned off by all the trash left behind.
“It was a huge deal to me,” she said.
Akeem McMichael, an education major at Savannah Technical College, said he attended Orange Crush over the weekend for the first time after hearing about it on the radio and from some friends. Although his fellow revelers should do a better job of cleaning up after themselves, McMichael said the problems surrounding the event were overblown and he would attend it again.
“For an unpermitted event it was pulled off very well,” he said.
Buelterman said people have a right to visit the beach and the city cannot shut down the event, which is an unofficial and non-permitted gathering organized mostly through social media. The city is also reluctant to institute traffic stops as had been done in the past, due to concerns about backed-up traffic blocking emergency responders, Buelterman said. He said he would like to try to talk with any “organizers” out there, in addition to a radio station that promoted the event, in order to try to cut down on future incidents.
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