GALVESTON, Texas — Beach Party Weekend in Galveston could be barricade-free this year because the annual revelry that once drew thousands of African-American college students appears to be a thing of the past.
So say city officials, who began reducing street controls at the event two years ago after crowds had dwindled to normal summer weekend numbers.
This year — and this weekend, April’s third, which is traditionally associated with Beach Party — the city is hoping for good crowds because of other tourist events, but it expects traffic to be light.
In its heyday in the 1990s, Beach Party was infamous for its long lines of slow-moving vehicles cruising the "triangle" — the area bounded by Sixth and 14th streets, Seawall Boulevard and Broadway — as up to 200,000 revelers came to the island.
So the city put barricades at intersections to try to keep some semblance of order.
But now, they could be a thing of the past, although the city’s public information officer, Alicia Cahill, said: "Traffic-control devices will be staged at key congestion points as a precautionary measure. The city does not plan to set them out and man them unless conditions warrant substantial traffic control."
Beach Party’s official promoter has not filed an event application this year, and black
beachweek.com, a Web site associated with the weekend, recently declared the party canceled.
No one at city hall is taking anything for granted, however, and officials are asking residents to report any traffic problems by calling the police department’s nonemergency number, 409-765-3702.
Meanwhile, tourists and residents alike can look forward to an island weekend highlighted by the first Galveston Island Food and Wine Festival and ArtWalk.
The festival begins at 2 p.m. in Saengerfest Park on The Strand, and ArtWalk will involve its usual gaggle of galleries throughout downtown, most of which will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., although serious art lovers can start at 4 p.m. and linger until 10 p.m.