Atlantic City public safety leaders had a little surprise three days before today’s free concert celebrating Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville: Jimmy Buffett.

Police and emergency plans for the beach concert had been in the works with Resorts Casino Hotel for about two months. But there was no confirmation Mr. Margaritaville himself would be at the Resorts party until Wednesday.

But fear not, Parrotheads and those who just happen to be in town, public safety has it handled, officials say.

“We just started planning for a larger crowd,” police Chief Ernest Jubilee said Friday. “We didn’t get any advanced notice, but in our internal meetings, we felt it best to begin planning as if he would be coming. The idea was, we could scale back if it didn’t happen.”

The plans include a command post at the end of North Carolina Avenue, where communications and two ambulances will be set up.

The concert begins at 1 p.m., with headliners Wilson Phillips taking the stage at 7 p.m. Buffett is expected to perform at 4 p.m., when longtime songwriting and producing partner Mac McAnally is set to play.

There will be two shifts of 15 officers working special details, Public Safety Director Will Glass said. Resorts will pay for the off-duty officers through the Special Employment Section at a rate of $73 an hour, with $50 for the officer and the rest going back to the department for administrative costs.

Extra personnel include 40 lifeguards watching the surrounding beach to make sure the festivities don’t get out of hand in the water, which is being coordinated by Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Rod Aluise.

The city’s two tactical units are assigned to the event, along with plainclothes officers and the city’s Bomb Squad, Glass said. There will also be traffic officers stationed on North Carolina Avenue at both Pacific and Atlantic avenues.

Currently, no overtime is expected to be paid for any of the personnel working, Glass said.

Police expect more than 20,000 people to attend. Last summer, Kenny Chesney drew 25,000 people to his free concert in Wildwood. But unlike today’s event, those getting in still needed tickets for Chesney. At Margaritaville, anyone can come. That will mean people not just crowding the beach but also the Boardwalk to hear the concert.

Boaters also are expected to try to catch the sounds from the water.

“That’s why the assists of the New Jersey State Police Marine Division and the U.S. Coast Guard is so important,” Glass said.

The Beach Boys hold the record for attendance of a free Atlantic City beach concert, with an estimated 200,000 fans showing up in front of Caesars Atlantic City on the Fourth of July 1983. About 50,000 people attended when the band returned 25 years later.

“It should be a beautiful day,” said Deputy Chief Joseph Nolan, who is overseeing police at the venue. “We just hope everyone has a great time.”

Coordination for the event included meetings with Resorts along with police leaders, Aluise and Tom FoleyThe plans include a command post at the end of North Carolina Avenue, where communications and two ambulances will be set up., who heads the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

“We’re looking forward to a successful weekend where everyone’s safe and able to enjoy themselves,” Jubilee said. “Hopefully, we’ll have no major incidents. But if we do, we’re prepared to handle it.”

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