A slight chance of rain did not stop the 2014 UNCW Beach Blast from unfolding near Wrightsville Beach’s Crystal Pier.
Jon Kapell, director for campus activities and involvement with UNCW, said he expects as many as 4,000 students came out to celebrate the last day of summer before classes start Aug. 20.
“It’s just a wonderful tradition for students to engage in every year. They look forward to it. The weather has held out for us this year, which has been a wonderful thing,” Kapell said.
Inclement weather cancelled the Beach Blast in 2006 and 2012.
Cloud-free skies pose a need for new precautions, though. With temperatures hovering near 90 degrees, Kapell said staff is focused on keeping students safe from the heat.
“It’s going to be very warm today, so we have to remind students to hydrate,” Kapell said.
Three officers contracted through the Wrightsville Beach Police Department keep an eye on the entrances to the event, with approximately 25 full-time UNCW staff members and 11 security officers roving throughout the crowds. Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue is keeping an eye on swimmers, with between six and seven lifeguards on duty in the area.
Wrightsville Beach Park Ranger Shannon Slocum is also keeping an eye on the event. He said the presence of beach safety officials serves as a deterrent.
“A lot of it is just visibility. It’s a reminder that we’re pretty diligent as far as patrolling these areas out here,” Slocum said.
He said efforts focused at the entrance, like checking coolers and bags for alcohol, keep things pretty calm on the beach. He makes an effort to patrol the area around the beach, especially nearby house parties and parking lots.
Early in the event, around 12:30 p.m., no tickets had been written.
The UNCW Surfrider group will host a Beach Sweep following the event, from 4 to 6 p.m. In the event of rain, the group will return to the beach tomorrow to clean up.