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Mayor of Jax Beach recaps Orange Crush Festival; Shares thoughts on the event

Shelby Senesac, News Editor

Last weekend, the highly anticipated Orange Crush Festival made its way to Jacksonville Beach. Spinnaker spoke with Jacksonville Beach Mayor Chris Hoffman to discuss the events that took place and if the festival will return.

According to the festival’s organizer, there were approximately 20,000 people expected to attend based on ticket sales. Tickets ranged in prices from $50 to upwards of $300. However, only about 1,000 people showed up. It’s unclear why these expected numbers dwindled so drastically. Eventbrite, where the tickets were sold, did state “No Refunds.”

On Saturday, June 19, a beach day was scheduled for the festival, but which beach exactly this would take place at was never specified. Jacksonville Beach businesses prepared in advance in the case of thousands of people visiting Jax Beach for the festival.

Several Jax Beach restaurants closed for the entire weekend and according to Mayor Hoffman, there were a few different reasons for why this was. Mayor Hoffman explained that a lot of the businesses at the beach are having trouble hiring and staying staffed. Not only that, but having an anticipated 20,000 people in a limited time period is going to impact roadways, parking, and more. Businesses didn’t know what kind of traffic there would be, if their staff could find parking, etc., and ultimately made the decision to close their doors for the weekend.

Orange Crush at Jacksonville Beach on Saturday, June 19. / Photo courtesy of Mayor Chris Hoffman.

Mayor Hoffman rode along Jacksonville Beach with several law enforcement officials in ATVs on Saturday.

“It really was very quiet at the beach until around 3:30-4 o’clock. We started to see a lot of folks arriving and congregating on the beach, walking up and down the boardwalk, we saw some cruising on 1st and 2nd Street. It picked up a lot, but it was definitely not more than a thousand or two people. It was nowhere near what the promoters had put out,” Mayor Hoffman said.

Orange Crush at Jacksonville Beach on Saturday, June 19. / Photo courtesy of Mayor Chris Hoffman.

Mayor Hoffman stated she did not personally witness any incidents or issues other than violations of the open container policy at Jax Beach. Though, Mayor Hoffman did reveal that she saw one van which had been pulled over and the incident is currently under investigation. Since it is currently under investigation, she could not provide any more details.

“The direction to our officers was to be present but polite and inform of our laws, especially open container laws. […] People were very understanding,” Mayor Hoffman said.

Orange Crush at Jacksonville Beach on Saturday, June 19. / Photo courtesy of Mayor Chris Hoffman. 

Mayor Hoffman was asked if she is expecting and/or hoping Orange Crush Festival will be back next year. 

“If it comes back, I think the community needs to take a hard look at this organization because if the organizers sold 20,000 tickets, and tickets ranged from $300 to some of the events which were $50, a lot of those events got canceled. If they sell 20,000 tickets at $150, that’s $3 million,” Mayor Hoffman said. 

In short, the said amount of ticket sales and the turnout simply don’t add up in the slightest. That’s a large number of people who would’ve lost anywhere between $50-$300. 

Mayor Hoffman also explained when they have an event at the Seawalk Pavilion which is serving alcohol, they have to hire police officers and EMTs as well. Therefore, Orange Crush Festival organizers would need to provide for the public safety for their event(s). However, since the beach is free and completely open to the public, it’s “a real gray area,” according to Mayor Hoffman.

“If someone is making money by sending these people to that beach, there’s a disconnect there,” Mayor Hoffman said. 

Overall, the festival was a low-key, relaxed weekend, which appeared to be much different than what was advertised for the festival. It has not been determined if the Orange Crush Festival will be back in Jacksonville next year.

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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