MARGATE – Thousands of young people made their annual senior week pilgrimage to the Decatur Avenue beach Saturday for a ritual that in past years has included violence and underage drinking.
Although there was no fighting on the beach this year, there were numerous arrests for having open containers of alcohol and smoking marijuana, according to Margate Police.
Last week, Police Chief David Wolfson said the city would be ready with additional police coverage. There were approximately 10 officers stationed on the beach and several of them worked undercover.
Wolfson said Wawa hired extra security officers to patrol the store on Washington Avenue, which has become known as Club Wa.
Residents took to Facebook to complain about the lack of “parental supervision” and the amount trash and debris left on the beach. By Sunday morning, the Public Works Department cleaned the beach.
Margate Business Association President Ed Berger offered some defense for the young people, stating they are visitors to Margate like everyone else.
“People take to Facebook and make it look like a bigger problem than it is,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday morning. “What can you do, pat them down when they show up in Margate? Where do you draw the line in the sand?”
Berger said it would be improper to infringe on the rights of the majority of young people because of the actions of a few who make problems.
“No one was injured, there was no property damage, and the police looked out for everyone’s welfare,” he said. “They issued citations and that’s what they are supposed to do when someone violates the law.”
Berger said young people are a big part of the consumer base in Margate.
“Retailers don’t have a problem with them. There will always be a few rowdies, but most are good and just having a good time,” Berger said.