BRADENTON BEACH -- The Bradenton Beach Police Department is bracing itself for floating crowds on Coquina Beach this Saturday after hearing Floatopia Miami may make its way to Manatee County.
The event, which takes place in Miami Beach several times a year, is known for people "floating and relaxing on rafts along the coast and mingling on the beach," according to the official Floatopia Miami website. Photos on the website show beaming beachgoers with colorful inflatable ride-ons -- a bright orange lobster, a giant striped sandal, and an oversized pink teacup on the water are just a few featured in a photo gallery.
The latest Floatopia Miami event April 16, however, didn't go well with Miami Beach officials after the beach was trashed with discarded rafts, bottles and cans, the Miami Herald reported.
The bitter taste has now hit Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, who said Tuesday the agency does not have the resources to properly guarantee safety for the unauthorized special event.
"We're taking this as a serious issue, that this is an event that could possibly come up and it's definitely causing us concern," he said, adding no one has been able to reach the organizers. "We're spending a lot of time as far as public safety to try to get together to ensure that this is going to be a safe day at the beach."
The Bradenton Herald's messages to Floatopia organizers were not returned Tuesday, but an April 17 post on the event's Facebook page addressed the aftermath of its latest event.
"The level of disrespect shown on our beach yesterday was unimaginable," the post read.
Speciale said he was alerted last week about Floatopia Miami possibly coming to Coquina Beach after an employee with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office forwarded an email with details to the agency.
"We got some information from a member of the sheriff's office that one of their kids saw it on social media. ... and they shared it with us," the police chief said.
The email, originally sent to Bradenton Beach Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz, includes photos of beachgoers on floats and what appears to be the screenshot of a cell phone note that reads: "Floatopia Beach Bash." The note says the bash is taking place at 2 p.m. April 30 on Coquina Beach.
"Bring a float leave drama at yo momma house," the note concludes.
Sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow said the information was forwarded to Bradenton Beach officials by the agency's intelligence unit.
"Now Bradenton Beach can act accordingly as far as what they want to do with the crowds," he said. "Whenever they need backup, they can call the sheriff's office, and they do."
"This does not sound like something we want to allow at Coquina," read an email from Chief Speciale to Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon. "Could you please send this email up the chain we don't have the resources to deal with the potential problems."
Shearon then forwarded the email to Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, who thanked the mayor for the information.
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Edward Straight, who operates Wildlife Inc., a nonprofit education and rehabilitation center, with his wife, Gail Straight, expressed concern Tuesday.
"Any time you have an unruly crowd, it can be dangerous to the wildlife out there," he said.
Speciale said he plans on bringing on extra officers Saturday, just in case.
"We're trying to encourage people not to come out here that day," he said. "The Floatopia group -- not people in general that are coming out to enjoy the beach."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.