ST. SIMONS ISLAND — With revelers donning Santa Claus outfits, sports jerseys and neon face paint, the party was still going on at “Frat Beach” on Friday. Warnings of a larger police presence and stricter law enforcement appears to have done little to keep away UGA students and Georgia football fans.
“We want them to have fun,” Glynn County police captain Tommy Tindale said Friday. “I hope they have a good turnout.”
Before noon, the crowd was subdued. One student described it at a “mini Frat Beach.” Early in the day, high tide had the water all the way up to the beach entrances near the King & Prince Beach and Golf Resort, a common hangout for students this weekend. The combination of the elements and new rules gave the party a little later start.
But it wasn’t long before droves of people poured through the beach accesses. After lunch, the crowd seemed to have swelled to about two-thirds of the usual size. The absence likely could be accounted for in underage students, who decided testing heavy police presence attend the all-day party.
Meanwhile, Glynn County provided significant increase in personnel in addition to police officers, from emergency medical teams to Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers. The objective was to protect the environment and address the complaints of residents, namely litter and safety issues due to over-intoxication.
In addition, busses were being provided by the Glynn County School System to shuttle people from the beach to designated stops, in efforts to reduce drunk driving or people walking on the road to get back to their hotels.
Rumors of ID checks and road blocks seemed unfounded. Officers were not checking IDs as patrons entered the beach as had been predicted, according to Tindale. He said they checked for IDs only if someone was noticeably drunk and calling attention to themselves. He said the police would not be setting up road blocks but would be focusing on monitoring over-intoxicated pedestrians and general safety.
Tindale said the only reason a person would be stopped going onto the beach was if they had glass bottles, which aren’t permitted on the beach, or if they had Styrofoam coolers.
Everyone seemed to get along well as partying students occasionally paused to take pictures with law enforcement.
Environmental protection was one of the main concerns of local residents. The push to minimize litter began last year when the community grew more concerned about the amount of trash getting in the water when the tides changed.
The organization brought 100 green cardboard coolers, donated by Pratt Industries, and 1,000 portable ashtrays, donated by Keep America Beautiful, to pass out to beach patrons
“Trash and the underage drinking has the community in an uproar,” said Lea King, executive director of Keep Golden Isles Beautiful. “We’re excited to have people here but we know you can party but not litter. There is absolutely no reason to litter.”
Tindale recognized that anytime people gather in masses, trash is an outcome. While the community members think it’s only college students that cause this, Tindale said that he expects the same aftermath at the upcoming Martina McBride concert.
For more on Frat Beach, read Craig Schnieder’s story here.