Spectators appreciate beach police presence on Fourth of July

by: Amanda Warford Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. —

The annual Fourth of July celebration in Jacksonville Beach drew a crowd of more than 100,000 people this year. 

Milton Mendez brought his entire family, which is a tradition, but this year he's noticed a change. 

"I see a lot of control, I see a lot of community officers going around and safety is number one," he said. 

For Jacksonville Beach police, it was a busy day. 

"We’ve had a lot of disturbance calls, large house parties," said Cmdr.

Mark Evans, who took Action News along to see the challenges they're faced with. 

"Basically what we’re looking for is compliance," Evans said. 

The biggest problems, Evans said, are open containers, illegal fireworks and large parties.  

"When you have that many people in one particular area, you’ve got to make sure they stay safe," Evans said. 

Beth Acheson has enjoyed watching the celebration grow over 35 years, but said police are now being pushed to the limit. 

"My heart goes out to law enforcement who have to babysit this type of environment," Acheson said. 

Their efforts, she said, seem to be working. Molly Callis and her 91-year-old mother, Helen, came to Jacksonville Beach for the first time, and say the steps police are taking to keep this celebration under control are reassuring. 

"I think we expected this and we’re really enjoying it," Callis said.