College Beach Weekend arriving early in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — College Beach Weekend arrives two weeks early in Virginia Beach this year.

The city is gearing up for a busy spring weekend filled with sports tournaments, local events, and unsanctioned spring break activities.

Previously held on the fourth weekend in April, College Beach Weekend is now set to arrive April 8-10. According to a memo from the city manager released Monday, more than 15,000 people are expected to gather in Virginia Beach for the festivities.

Prior to 2019, the annual weekend event generated large crowds in the resort town accompanied by a series of crimes and shootings.

In 2018 alone, the weekend events ended with more than 40 physical arrests, compared to 30 arrests in 2017 and 65 arrests in 2016.

The spike in crime and shootings during College Beach Weekend led to the realization of the Something In The Water festival.

A collaboration between Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams and city councilors, SITW was billed as a way to counter spring weekend high crime with a three-day music and culture festival.

And it worked.

In 2019, more than 35,000 people came to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront for Something In The Water which brought together several big names like Missy Elliott, Pusha T, Chris Brown, Jay-Z and many more in an effort to steer the city away from the College Beach Weekend stigma.

Then-Deputy City Manager Steve Cover even mentioned the improvement over previous spring weekend events.

However, crime persisted for years to come.

In October 2021, Pharrell said SITW would not return to Virginia Beach in 2022, citing that the city is run by “toxic energy” and did not appreciate its proposed solutions.

In a letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaneythe 48-year-old singer and entrepreneur said the festival succeeded in easing racial tensions, unifying the region and creating opportunities for economic development.

However, Pharrell said the same energy was not reciprocated.

The singer’s move comes after the shooting death of his cousin, Donovon Lynch, 25in the hands of a Virginia Beach policeman.

“I love my city, but for far too long it’s been run by — and with toxic energy,” Williams said.

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