Ruckus at Narragansett Beach prompts calls for urgent measures. Opening info for RI beaches…

Photo: Police patrol on a Florida beach

Last weekend saw a concerning outbreak of violence on Narragansett Beach. It was described by one person who observed the melee as “a perfect storm of a beach not fully staffed, not officially open without beach fees, a graduation weekend for high schools and colleges, an older crowd mixed in with a younger out-of-town crowd, an unseasonably warm 90 degree day, and public drinking”, as small groups of arguments escalated and police from 4 or 5 towns, plus the RI State Police responded, arresting 8 youth.

Social media had videos of the incident, captured by fellow beachgoers. Police officers in full uniform and shoes running to catch barefoot young people running in sand. At this point the crowd was estimated at a few hundred, near the cabanas. The crowd outnumbered police and were described as “turning against the police”. Two police officers were injured – one on the beach and one at the police station.

Initial rumors were that the youth were out-of-towners, high-schoolers, from Providence, and the “arguments” may had been a planned event, organized on social media. What we know that 8 young people were arrested. Their ages were between 17 and 20. They were from Providence, Old Lyme, CT, North Kingstown, Johnston (2), and Cranston (3).

Narragansett Town Council President Jesse Pugh in a statement to The Independent said, “Narragansett is safe. What happened (Sunday) is totally unacceptable, anywhere in town. We’ll move on from it. It’s going to be a safe, enjoyable summer.”

On Social Media this week a memo was circulating that was attributed to the “Cabana People” and sent to the Narragansett Town Council with 6 suggestions to move forward to secure the beach and the safety of visitors. It met with considerable critique from individuals involved with working towards increasing public access to the waterfront, Saving RI Coastal Access/Rights Of Way.

Steps suggested in the memo include capping the number of beach patrons each day, police presence, including an officer riding the beach on an ATV, restricting of parking lots for residents only, limiting RIPTA buses, inspecting only non-residents bags for weapons from a separate entrance, and extending staffing through September 15th.

A portion of the letter being posted on Facebook:

RINewsToday was told the memo was written by Jane Warren. Warren is married to Tom Warren, Narragansett’s recreation board chairperson. This could not be confirmed. The Town Council will consider ways to prevent events like what happened last weekend from happening again.

Narragansett Town Beach:

Narragansett is not a RI State Beach, but is run by the town. The Cabanas are open to residents only. These units come with shower, include facility and parking passes and cost approximately $2,500 for the season. Right now there is an approximately 10 to 15 year wait to rent a cabana. Non-residents have felt that residents, particularly those owning cabanas have long wanted to privatize the beach area, and last week’s incident may prove to be fodder for that effort.


Rhode Island State Beaches Open

State Beaches will be open daily beginning Saturday, May 29th through Labor Day.

The RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging residents to buy their state beach parking pass in advance at Individuals may purchase resident, non-resident, or senior season beach parking passes at this site as well as daily flex passes, which allow for one-day parking.

DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation recognizes the value of spending time in nature and is committed to ensuring beach visitors enjoy safe and memorable experiences at state beaches. “The opening of our beaches is always a special time, and especially after the year we’ve all had,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “We hope you make time this weekend to visit one of these spectacular places with your family and friends to watch the waves roll in or take a walk along the water’s edge. And to help you get on the beach as quickly as possible, there are many convenient options for Rhode Islanders and visitors to get a season or daily parking pass ahead of time.”

Scarborough North, Salty Brine, East Matunuck, Roger Wheeler, Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, and Misquamicut state beaches will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

Scarborough South in Narragansett will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily beginning Saturday, June 19 through August 22, and on weekends-only from August 23 through September 6.

Our freshwater and bay beaches will also open daily beginning Saturday, May 29 through Labor Day. These beaches include Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, Burlingame Picnic Area, Pulaski Park, and Fort Adams State Park.

To help reduce the amount of time beachgoers spend at the entry booths, DEM is encouraging Rhode Islanders to buy season and daily flex parking passes online or in advance. Anyone who buys a season parking pass or a daily flex parking pass online or before heading to the beach will be able to use the express lanes for quick beach entry. Purchasing season or daily flex parking passes online will also help DEM keep the express lanes open, as there have been past instances when the express lanes could not be used because too many people were paying for parking at the entry gates rather using pre-paid parking passes. Express lanes are available at all state beaches except for East Beach, Charlestown Breachway and Salty Brine, which are one-lane facilities.

It is important for Rhode Islanders to know that the lots may fill quickly. People should expect that they may encounter traffic backups and closed lots. Please be patient and plan for delays. Season parking passes no longer require a physical pass to be placed on vehicle windshields as passes are now tied to an individual’s license plate. Beach attendants use hand-held devices to scan the front license plate for information and anyone who buys their parking pass online or before heading to the beach will be able to use express lanes for quick entry. Online daily flex parking passes allow beachgoers to save their payment information into their beach parking account and are charged the daily parking rate only when they enter beach parking lots. This flex parking pass is a great option if you are unsure how many times you may be able to visit the beach but would like the opportunity to utilize the express lanes. Along with the online option, season beach parking passes also may be purchased in person at the Scarborough State Beach overflow lot from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. This is the parking lot located directly across from Scarborough North with the entrance off Burnside Avenue. Season parking passes are not available at state beach entrance booths. DEM urges customers purchasing a season parking pass at the overflow lot to have their registration ready to show the attendant to allow for these transactions to occur quickly and efficiently. This lot will close to season parking pass sales in the event that the overflow lot needs to be used for parking on busy, high traffic days.


Online credit card purchases are charged a 6% transaction charge; the total for a $30 RI resident season pass purchased online is $31.80. The daily beach parking fee (now known as a flex parking pass when purchased online) for residents is $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. The fee for a season parking pass for residents is $30 and will be available for purchase through Labor Day. Non-resident parking is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. A season parking pass is $60 for non-residents. A 50% discount on daily parking fees and season parking passes applies for senior citizens 65 years and older. Fees are based solely on the vehicle registration (i.e., license plate) of each vehicle entering beach facilities. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates; non-Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates. (By law, a “vehicle” is defined as any street-legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over-the-road travel.) No-cost disability passes are available for those who are eligible. Please contact RI State Parks Headquarters at 667-6200 for questions on how to obtain this pass and to make an appointment.

Carry-in/Carry-Out Trash Policy

Everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. Consistent with this ethic, DEM will continue the carry-in/carry-out trash policy that has been in effect since 1992. Using announcements, social media, signage, and advertising, DEM aims to raise public awareness of the positive values of bringing waste-free lunches and reusable meal and drink containers to the beach and the negative impacts of ugly and unsanitary trash on shorelines.” The carry-in/carry-out policy is a best practice across the country because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences,” said Director Coit.

COVID Safety

DEM reminds beachgoers that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. Given that we are still working towards getting all eligible Rhode Islanders fully vaccinated, it is important to follow the basic health rules. These include masking when unvaccinated people are within three feet or less of others.


DEM continues to accept applications for qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry level and senior lifeguard positions are still available at numerous locations throughout the state. All lifeguard positions require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving. Various other season positions at state parks, beaches and campgrounds throughout the state are available. Full-time lifeguard positions are available at state swimming areas, including saltwater beaches such as Misquamicut, Roger Wheeler, and Scarborough, non-surf beaches such as Goddard, and freshwater beaches such as Burlingame Campground and Lincoln Woods State Park. Hourly rates for lifeguards range from $13.25 to $16.25 an hour, based on location and position level.

For updates on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

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