Orange Crush organizers want to make these entertainment changes for 2024

FILE: Party-goers hang out in the street during stand-still traffic caused by Orange Crush in April this year.

Credit: RJ Smith/ Savannah Morning News

Credit: RJ Smith/ Savannah Morning News

FILE: Party-goers hang out in the street during stand-still traffic caused by Orange Crush in April this year.

Orange Crush, which brought more than 50,000 visitors to Tybee Island this year, is returning in late April, but the biggest HBCU bash of the southeast might be a little different than what some remember from earlier this year.

Organizers of Orange Crush, seeking advice on applying for a permit for the event April 19-21, met with city officials Tuesday afternoon.

"They're interested in creating an event where they can have vendors and live entertainment," Mayor-Elect Brian West said. "Like Pirate Fest, they wanted to do something similar to that where there's vendor tents and activities for people to do."

West said that it's a good idea and that part of the problem with the 2023 event was that attendees arrived with nothing to do. Pirate Fest is an event that's held on the island yearly in October, and is organized by residents. It's two days full of live music, performers and vendors set up on Tybrisa Street.

Typically, according to West, when Tybee promotes an event on public property they have expectations that the event would be family-friendly, with bounce houses, and face paining. Interim City Manager Michelle Owens and the person in charge of the permits informed event organizers that's likely what council would be looking for in the permit before they approved it.

"We talked about some other ideas of some ways to do things, but he took away the paperwork and I believe he's going to apply for an event like that," West said.

If the organizers turn in the permits for the special event, they will receive reviews and direction from the city manager, staff and the special events coordinator, if it is accepted. After it's reviewed and all concerns are addressed with the impacted departments of the city, it will be submitted to city council for consideration.

Attempts to reach out to Orange Crush organizers through social media received no response Tuesday evening.

Organizers of the event announced on social media last week that the "biggest beach bash in the Southeast" would be coming to the island early next year. The flyer on Eventbrite reads "everybody invited locations TBA" with events listed for the three days.

With attendance numbers of about 50,000 last year, attendees seem to take "everybody invited" seriously, much to the dismay and discomfort of residents. According to Tybee Island Mayor-Elect Brian West, the last festival, which drew thousands of cars to hours of gridlocked traffic to the island, was the first-time traffic backed up to Whitmarsh and Wilmington.

West also said that the behavior during Orange Crush weekends are different from typical busier weekends on the island like the Fourth of July weekend. It's "much riskier behavior, more dangerous" than families coming to enjoy the fireworks and get something to eat.

Between Friday, April 21 and Sunday, April 23, Tybee Island Police Department made 18 arrests, issued 37 traffic citations and 53 Code Enforcement violations.

"I made a commitment, before I even decided to run for mayor, I made a commitment in a podcast that this wasn't going to happen again under my watch," West said. "And I meant that, we're not going to have an experience like we did last year."

Destini Ambus is the general assignment reporter for Chatham County municipalities for the Savannah Morning News. You can reach her at

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Orange Crush organizers want to make these entertainment changes for 2024


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