Sun Sentinel September 10, 2011

September 10, 2011|By Larry Barszewski, Sun Sentinel

DEERFIELD BEACH — Midnight Madness has run out of time, at least for this year.

The 30-year-old event that attracts thousands of teens to the island each year is a victim of its own success.

“It’s very disappointing. It’s kind of like a tradition,” said Keenan Flegel, 15, a surfer from Lighthouse Point. “Everyone’s getting excited about it, even a month before it happens.”

Island Water Sports, which hosts the October event, canceled it last week after city officials recommended against shutting down State Road A1A near the city’s pier for the event.

The city agreed to the same request last year because the annual event was outgrowing the store’s parking lot and beginning to pose a safety risk on A1A, but the 15,000 who turned out overwhelmed organizers who didn’t have sufficient security or portable toilets for the crowd.

Teens loved the music, skateboard demonstrations, product displays and games that turned into a street festival, but nearby residents complained about people littering and urinating on their lawns, traffic congestion in front of their homes and crowds spreading to the beach at night.

“It was the biggest mess because you couldn’t go anywhere,” said Robert Erickson, who lives down Northeast Second Street from from the event. “They were turning around on lawns trying to get out of here.”

Still, Erickson, whose home of 24 years is up for sale, said he’s less concerned about a once-a-year event than the beach congestion and noise he experiences most weekends.

City officials said Island Water Sports should move the event to the city’s main beach parking lot south of Hillsboro Boulevard, but organizers said that would defeat its main purpose, which is to bring business to the store and others along A1A’s S-curve.

Those businesses will miss the event’s pick-me-up during a traditionally slow time of year.

“Last year, almost all of the local businesses reported excellent to record results,” said Joe Hillner, president of the Island Partnership, an association of business owners. “Financially, that’s going to be a bit of a hardship on those businesses.”

Kirsten Flegel, Keenan’s mom, was one of the customers providing business while her children enjoyed the Midnight Madness.

“I’m always hovering. I usually sit at the hotel, go out for a bite to eat,” she said.

Island Water Sports will begin meeting with city officials immediately to work on its 2012 event, co-owner Linsey Cottrell said, so security and other questions can be ironed out to allow the street closure she said is needed. The store also needs time to solicit sponsors to help cover the added costs, she said.

And while the city allowed nearby businesses to sell alcohol outdoors during last year’s event, Cottrell said she’s not interested in having that again because it doesn’t fit the event’s youth orientation.

The kids can’t wait.

“I’ve been going basically since my parents would let me, since about 12,” said Aubriana Fumagali, 18, who grew up in Deerfield Beach. “You go hang out, enjoy the entertainment. Last year was incredible compared to all the other years.”

To read the original article in the Sun Sentinel, visit:
The Pelican September 9, 2011By Judy Wilson
Pelican staff
Deerfield Beach
 – For the first time in 30 years, Midnight Madness, the sales event that grew into a local tradition, will not be held. City officials have refused a request to close A1A and NE 2 Street in front of Island Water Sports for the concert and store owner Linsey Cottrell said this week, the show will not go on.
“It’s a bummer,” Cottrell said, “but we can work with the city to pull off a better event next year.”
The annual October Madness is held during one of the worst retail months of the year and for one evening, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., reportedly gives beachside businesses a boost. Last year, Island Water Sports joined forces with The Island Partnership – a loosely knit beach business organization- and more than 15,000 people came out for food and drink specials, the concert, skateboard demonstrations and surf and skate product displays. The commission even allowed open alcoholic containers, a provision that was not being sought this year Cottrell said. “This is all about the kids and last year’s mixed demographic created some chaos,” she said.
Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Walt Bratton issued the memo recommending the event be moved to the main beach parking lot, a location Cottrell rejected. “That doesn’t make any sense. More people live in that area and we could get a lot of complaints,” she said.
Madness is as much the “sale of all sales” at Island Water Sports as it is a concert. “People think we make a lot of money but we carry the cost of all the events. It is more about cash flow and clearing out our inventory. At the end of the day, we make no money,”  Cottrell said. Last year, security cost $7,000 and the event planners had to build a skate park and the concert stage.
Initiated when Island Water Sports was a three-year-old business, Midnight Madness was built around its sale and gospel music that appealed to young surfers who packed the store’s parking lot. In recent years attendance numbers have zoomed and if A1A remained open it would no longer be a safe event, Cottrell said.
She says she had been working with Community Redevelopment Agency Manager Keven Klopp and City Commissioner Joe Miller to “accommodate the event.”  Her application for the street closure was filed in June but not put on a city agenda until this week.
“Even if they had approved the closure, seven weeks is not time enough to plan something of this size,” Cottrell said. “We want all our ducks in a row and have something the city can be happy about.”
So the planning for October 2012 has already begun and Cottrell says she will fight for that street closure. She is looking for people to voice their support in the meantime. “I hope people will make it known how good Midnight Madness is for the Island,” she said.Two years ago, adults from Bru’s Room and other neighboring bars came into the Island Water Sports venue causing problems and prompting a former city manager to censure the event

Posted by Anne Siren on September 9, 2011 at 9:50 AM

To read the original article in the Pelican visit: