Alcohol ban not imposed for Orange Crush this year, causes concern for officials

SAVANNAH, Ga., (WSAV) — Orange Crush is just two months away and still a controversial topic. For many it’s one big party on Tybee Island, but  police and local leaders have their concerns.

Last year for the first time city officials imposed a no alcohol and no amplified music ban during the weekend celebration. The restrictions upset a number of party-goers who say they wouldn’t return if it was the same this year. Recently, council agreed the alcohol ban is no longer in place but amplified music is restricted. But, not everyone on council agrees.

“What I had wanted to do is impose alcohol restrictions on the week on spring break for most colleges locally which is March 12- 16. And then also to impose them on whatever dates orange crush is scheduled for,” City of Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman says.

There were some council members against enforcing the no alcohol ban. But Buelterman says, reducing the alcohol consumption would in turn, reduce violence.

“We do not want to have an event where there has been consistently violence where people are at risk,” Bulterman says. “That’s not something we want for our community that’s not something we want folk who are coming out here to be subjected to.”

The violence is what makes some business close their doors when the weekend comes around. Most did not want to go on camera but they say, they want to keep their employees safe. They also say Tybee beaches are family beaches and not meant for those who engage in inappropriate behavior.

According to Tybee Police, the top charges since 2009 are possession of marijuana, DUI and driving while suspended. In 2017, 35 people were arrested for charges including DUI, possession of marijuana, public intoxication and more. In 2016, when there was no ban, 55 were arrested. Over the nine year span, 2011 had the lowest number of arrests, 16. Leaders say safety has been a concern since 2015 after two shootings left one man injured.

“Its our job to make sure that anybody that comes out here is protected and we look out for their safety,” Buelterman said.

He told News 3 it is hard to keep people safe, if the event is unpermitted. Which prevents Tybee officials from being able to have the proper staffing to combat any violence.

They’ve made multiple attempts to find an organizer or a promoter but he says he hasn’t been able to because it’s mostly word of mouth and social media based.

Buelterman says, “the bottom line is we are trying to do everything we can to deal with an unpermitted event.”

Orange Crush is currently scheduled for April 19- 22.

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