Memorial Day Weekend brings thousands to Virginia Beach

Posted at 10:36 PM, May 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-25 22:36:53-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Many consider this weekend the start of tourism season - a season that was threatened when chaos broke out on the main strip less than one month ago.

The weekend of April 27, police arrested nearly 150 people after several stabbings, shootings, and robberies. Emergency dispatchers received more than 300 calls that night, four times the number of calls they usually receive.

"We certainly did not expect to have as large of a crowd as we did a month ago, and we certainly did not expect to have as much violence that occurred," said Virginia Beach Police Sergeant Adam Bernstein.

Bernstein is in charge of the patrols near the Oceanfront where the violence happened last month. He says his department is used to the crowds that come in Memorial Day weekend, and they will be increasing patrols.

The increase patrols are welcome by the businesses who had to lock their doors the night of violence.

"Once the fight started they didn't care about nothing, I swear to God," said Kali Nafi, the manager of Bella Pizza.

Nafi says Bella Pizza has been open for 17 years and he has never seen anything like what happened in front of his restaurant in April.

Police hope the increased patrols will help businesses like Bella Pizza, which often stays open until 3 a.m. to catch the crowds leaving the bars.

Nafi hopes what happened one weekend will not effect his business.

"I would definitely encourage people to come and have fun, there is a lot of fun on the strip, and people do take good memory with them when they come and visit Atlantic Avenue," said Nafi.

Millions of tourists come to Virginia Beach every summer.

Police say patrols will be increased through Labor Day, and they are even bigger on holiday weekends or when there is a big event.