WILMINGTON -- The Azalea Festival is the biggest event in the Port City, attracting hundreds of thousands of people each year. Area law enforcement is beefing up security to keep the crowds in check. It's the start of some very busy days for area law enforcement. Wilmington Police Department Capt. Marshall Williamson said, "The plan of action is in place for a large event, such as the Azalea Festival." Capt. Williamson says officers will be flooding the streets for the Azalea Festival. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend azalea events, so the WPD is tightening security to keep the peace. But they're not the only ones on patrol. New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey said, "Our traffic units will be stepping up patrols, looking for impaired drivers. We're doing some escorts for the festival and we've got some plain-clothed people at some other events." New Hanover County Sheriff's deputies will also be scouting the scene. It's a joint effort that authorities hope will be useful to keep the community safe. "We're kind of working together, pulling together," Sheriff Causey said. "So far, we've been able to get through 59 of these. I understand this is number 60, so hopefully we won't have a lot of problems with people." In total nearly 500 law enforcement officials -- about 250 Sheriff's deputies and more than 200 officers -- will be on hand at the Azalea Festival. They're urging people to play it safe for the next few days. "Just go to an officer if a child's been lost. Hang on to your valuables, pocketbooks, or anything of that nature and watch the amount of alcohol you consume," Sheriff Causey said. Authorities add you should be patient at azalea events, drive carefully and most of all, enjoy the festivities! Additional law enforcement will lend a hand. Officials say about 16 Highway Patrol troopers will be scouting roadways throughout the county.
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