Tybee Island preparing for summer crowds, mayor addresses plans for unpermitted event

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island is gearing up for tens of thousands of visitors this Memorial Day weekend.

The holiday marks the kickoff of the summer beach season for many, when large crowds start hitting the sand almost every weekend.

This comes a few weeks after the beach community had what city leaders called a chaotic time during Orange Crush.

“It was not like this the other day. You can see people funneling in,” said Michelle Siegert, who is visiting from New Jersey.

The city is preparing for a busy stretch with officials saying last Memorial Day weekend 150,000 people visited Tybee beaches.

“Today is half more than when we first got here. There’s probably 50% more people,” said Tammy McLellan, visiting from Indiana.

To prepare, the island will have extra officers on duty and lifeguards patrolling the beach.

From Friday to Monday, traffic controls will be in effect.

Southbound Traffic on Butler Avenue will not be able to turn left onto 15th Street or Tybrisa Street.

Inlet Avenue will be closed to traffic as needed.

And now as the city prepares for a crowded weekend, another large unpermitted event could be in store for the island later this summer.

Social media posts are advertising an event called “Turnt Island” in conjunction with Orange Crush organizers scheduled on Tybee the weekend before July 4th.

Flyers promoting the event claim it will be the south’s biggest July 4th beach bash with over 10,000 people expected.

During last month’s Orange Crush party, the island’s leaders came under scrutiny after the roads went into gridlock with nearly 20 arrests and more than 300 emergency calls made in one weekend.

In response to the possible July 4th party, Tybee’s mayor said in a statement that the island is aware of the flyers advertising a non-permitted event saying in part....

”We have been in touch with our county and state officials (including GDOT, CEMA, GEMA) who have ensured their assistance if needed. Multiple actions are being taken to stop these public safety activities from disrupting our residents, businesses and visitors.”

Again, the “Turnt Island” event is being promoted by some of the organizers involved in the recent Orange Crush event.

An event several agencies said they could have better prepared for.

Our investigative team poured over many pages of documents about how the city handled preparations for Orange Crush.