Some attendees says 2017 Folly Gras was too wild

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FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) — The City of Folly Beach held a special City Council Meeting to hear citizens comments and concerns surrounding Folly Gras.

The city-sanctioned event got criticism for getting out of hand. Some Folly Beach residents say the event was too large for the city to support, citing traffic and an understaffed police force as proof.

The annual Folly Gras street party was on February 25 and people who were there say at times it got out of control. During the event, some streets were shut down and people were allowed to walk up and down the street with their alcoholic beverages. But people who were there say it was much busier and crazier than past years.

Stephanie Verhalen was at the event and says, “This year it was a lot of people, it was pandemonium. I think it was pure chaos. It was very hard to even get a place to sit or to even be able to use the bathroom. It was more people than I’ve ever seen.”

It was a huge crowd. City officials say they counted 10,869 cars driving into Folly Beach on Saturday.

Folly Beach Director of Public Safety, Andrew Gilreath, says, “I think the crowd was a little bit different this year. The festival started off fine, but as the day went on people kept drinking and their behavior started to deteriorate and that’s when things really started picking up near the end there.”

Twenty-one people were arrested, that’s more than double the amount during the event last year. Those arrests included disorderly conduct, underage drinking, marijuana possession, and theft.

Donna Hughes was on Folly Beach that day and says, “I thought it had been billed more as a family event, but it seemed more like a street party for college”.

On top of that, city officials say the streets were trashed, more than 125 gallons of cans and cups were picked up by the city that night.

Gilreath says, “I don’t know why in 2017 we’re having people litter as much as they are. It’s just absolutely crazy the amount of disrespect somebody would show not only the city, but the environment as well”

Folly Beach’s Mayor says this Folly Gras is going to change the attitude of the city council, and some changes need to be made to make sure future festivals don’t get out of hand. News 2 also spoke to multiple city council members who say some solutions can include cracking down on over-serving or no longer allowing open containers during festivals.

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