Focus turns to July 4 after beach brawl
Excitement is in the air as Jacksonville Beach prepares for the return of the fireworks show, which was absent from the Fourth of July celebration last year.
But the fireworks visitors and police are currently focusing on are the remnants of a brawl at the beach on Memorial Day.
The melee (captured on cell phone video, below) drew a lot of negative attention to the beach, and for some like Kim Boswell, it's the last straw.
"I don't think I'm ever going to do a holiday at the beach ever again, and I love the beach," Boswell said.
Her friend Tina Aman is debating a return on the Fourth.
"I might. It just depends on the presence of police, the crowd control issue," she said.
On that issue, business owner and City Council member Keith Doherty said people who come to the beach for the Fourth will notice a big difference over last year.
"The visible deterrent will be here," Doherty said. "We will have officers at every public access, and those that create problems will be dealt with."
It's a message echoed by Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Patrick Dooley, who says there will be no tolerance for troublemakers.
"If you come out here with any intent to other than have a good time, to enjoy the beach and obey the rules, if you come out here with any other intent, yeah, you're going to have a problem and you're going to have an encounter with law enforcement, and we'll remove you from the area," Dooley said.
Police have said from the beginning that the brawl was the result of a few ill-behaved people. It's a feeling the Mena family shares, and they say they can't wait to see the fireworks on the Fourth.
"Love the beach. I'll always be here," resident Ruben Mena said.
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