WASHINGTON — Fueled by social media, tens of thousands of college students may be in Ocean City this weekend for what organizers are calling “College Takeover Beach Week.”
Although the event wasn’t vetted through official Ocean City channels, Jessica Waters, communications manager for the town, says the resort is prepared for the event, which runs June 5-8, and welcomes the influx of vacationers.
“This is an unsanctioned event,” says Waters. “We have several of these unofficial events that happen each year.”
Senior Week, a gathering of area high school students, has been an Ocean City staple for decades.
Last year, a similar impromptu gathering of college students in Virginia Beach in April drew approximately 40,000 young people, and included approximately 100 arrests and gunfire.
A second college week event last year at the Virginia resort went more smoothly.
Waters says Ocean City has taken steps to make for a busy, safe weekend.
“Our police department has been preparing for this event for quite some time, and been in contact with Virginia Beach and Virginia Beach police, and we’re very confident we’re prepared,” says Waters.
Tae Sweizy is an organizer of College Beach Takeover, and says he began speaking with Ocean City officials about the event almost a month ago.
He and his friends visited Ocean City last year, and had a blast.
“This year we said, ‘hey, why don’t we do it again, and just bring a little more fun to it,'” Sweizy tells WTOP.
Sweizy says the gathering has gained steam online.
“Anything that touches social media gets spread quickly,” says Sweizy. “So when we dropped the flyer it took off.”
Waters says Ocean City learned of the event by monitoring social media — a practice she says has become a necessity for government and public safety officials.
Some concerned by planned ‘takeover’
Calling the event “College Takeover Beach Week” has spurred some worry in the Ocean City community.
“I think that certainly has been a concern for people, knowing this a new event for our area and not something we’re used to seeing,” says Waters.
Organizer Sweizy, who runs PartyHeadzDC, says he is aware of new Ocean City rules and ordinances, that include forbidding profanity on the boardwalk.
“We’re just going for the vacation, but it’s now more of ‘let’s do it together, and have fun together,'” says Sweizy.
Sweizy says “it’s all about the safety,” for all involved.
He hopes police will be posted on every corner “just to ensure safety, to keep it in order.”
Sweizy says his group intends to do its part to enjoy the weekend, safely.
“It’s not ‘let’s go out there and act stupid and do stupid stuff because we’re not at home in the comfort of our own bed,'” says Sweizy. “It’s more ‘let’s get away, let’s enjoy life and have fun, but do it in an orderly manner.'”
While the group hasn’t organized any events at local nightclubs, Sweizy expects beach-goers will spend freely.
“This is a prime opportunity for businesses to get a lot of money and a lot of revenue.”
“June is always our very busiest month of the year,” says Waters. “We’re prepared for a large crowd influx, and we’re prepared for a very young crowd and diverse crowd.