DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There was an estimated 5,000 trucks and close to 40,000 enthusiasts in Daytona Beach over the weekend for Truck Meet. City leaders said the crowds were out of hand, though, with many attendees completely disregarding traffic laws and noise ordinances.
The event organizers rented out the International Speedway for the daytime event on Friday and Saturday then booked after-parties across the street at One Daytona.
Police and the mayor hoped that would stop some of the late-night parties beachside this year but Mayor Derrick Henry said it wasn’t enough.
“This event needs to be addressed and cleaned up,” he said.
Henry said he’s received hundreds of complaints from residents. Hundreds of people also took to commenting on his Facebook post from Sunday night.
“It’s the late-night activity the truckers are bringing to the neighborhoods,” he said.
The Daytona Beach Police Department issued 699 citations and made 28 misdemeanor and six felony arrests. Daytona Beach Shores police said they issued 551 traffic citations on Friday and Saturday and Ormond Beach police issued 87 tickets and 100 warnings.
Last year, 831 citations were issued across all agencies, according to Daytona Beach police. During 2019, pre-pandemic, 1,855 citations were issued in connection to the event.
Those were in addition to dozens of noise complaints, DUIs and other arrests.
The event is not sanctioned by the city of Daytona Beach, which leaders said leaves their hands tied.
“That doesn’t mean they’re not welcome. But it needs to be understood that the city does not benefit from this event,” Henry said.
Henry said he personally watched several drivers run red lights and come in close contact with other cars or pedestrians. He said the crowd is much rowdier than those that come for Bike Week or Jeep Beach.
“They have a history of knowing our community and respecting our community a little more and the trucks just aren’t doing that,” he said.
The crowds do bring a financial boost for businesses but hoteliers say the complaints outweighed the benefits.
“What it dispossessed was what we have worked for 15 years and spent millions of dollars on -- that we’re no longer a honky-tonk town or spring break,” said Bob Davis, the president of the Lodging and Hospitality Association of Volusia County.
Davis said he surveyed beachside hotel operators Monday morning.
“They’re telling me that a lot of guests, as they left, said they’d never come back because of that factor,” he said.
Henry said the future of Truck Meet will be a big focus of Wednesday’s city commission meeting with Police Chief Jakari Young expected to speak on it then, too.
Henry hopes to meet with event organizers before the next Truck Meet and would like to see it moved to late fall or early winter.
News 6 has reached out to the event organizers several times but has not heard back.