Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Treasure Island leaders look to crack down on Sunday drum circle

Arrests have become common at Treasure Island’s drum circle. New rules could be implemented to keep the crowd under control.

WILLIE J. ALLEN | Times (2006)

Arrests have become common at Treasure Island’s drum circle. New rules could be implemented to keep the crowd under control.

TREASURE ISLAND — An uptick in fighting and underage drinking by beachgoers attending the Sunday night drum circle is prompting city commissioners to consider a crackdown.

The informal drum circle, which has been gathering on the beach for more than a decade, is not the source of the problems, said Treasure Island police Chief Tim Casey. It is the teenagers who flocked to the beach this summer after school ended, joining the crowd of several hundred who regularly attend. The teenagers brought their quarrels with them, as well as alcohol and marijuana, Casey said.

And although the drummers typically leave by 10 p.m., he said, the younger beachgoers typically party on for hours.

Arrests have been made each Sunday for the past three weeks. On June 17, four people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges, one for underage drinking, and another for marijuana possession. After one dispute, a 16-year-old boy was hospitalized with a broken jaw, Casey said.

"It's a little crazy out there," said Casey, who is planning to increase the number of police officers monitoring the drum circle from six to as many as 10.

The City Commission may take it a step further. City Attorney Maura Kiefer said commissioners have asked her to revisit the city's ordinances, including how long the drummers are allowed to play, to determine whether new rules are needed to keep the crowds in order.

The commission has no plans to ban the drummers, she said. "It's more an issue of tightening our regulations on a lot of different levels."

Kiefer said she would present her findings to the commission at the July 17 meeting.

City Commissioner Irving "Butch" Ellsworth said that, personally, he would like to put an end to the drum circle.

"Speaking as a resident of the city of Treasure Island, I don't want it, period," he said. "To me, it's creating nothing but a problem."

Existing rules permit the drum circle to continue until 10 p.m. during daylight saving time, and to 9 p.m. the rest of the year. But the beach is not closed to the public until 1 a.m.

It would not be the first time that Treasure Island has had to curb the activities of the drummers, dancers and spectators who numbered roughly 400 last weekend, according to the police department's estimates.

In January, the commission passed an ordinance giving police the authority to arrest beachgoers who dig deep holes in the sand and fail to refill them. To the diggers, the trenches were a way to hide from police; to the city commissioners, they were a potential safety hazard.

And in 2006, in response to a similar increase in fighting and drinking, Casey increased the number of police officers on the beach on Sunday nights. After a few weeks, he said, the problems abated.

The weekly gathering began in 2001 when two friends, a belly dancer and a modern dance student, began inviting people to drum on the beach. The players are catholic in their taste of instruments, some choosing djembe drums, others banging on empty cans. Since its founding, the event has become a tradition admired by some neighbors — and a steady source of annoyance to others.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or

Treasure Island leaders look to crack down on Sunday drum circle 06/23/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 23, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid


    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  2. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO


    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …

    Jimmy Patronis’ selection is about politics.
  3. Tampa Bay child welfare agencies get additional state funding, plan to hire more social workers


    TAMPA — Buoyed by the award of an additional $3.7 million in state funding, Eckerd Kids plans to hire more social workers to ease the strain on Hillsborough County's overburdened child welfare system.

    The child welfare system in Hillsborough County will get an additional $3 million in funding for the upcoming fiscal  year beginning July 1, according to Eckerd Kids, the agency contracted to run the system by the state.
  4. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill


    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.