Authorities in Florida are accustomed to wild parties and unruly young adults at this time of year. The spring break holiday has always been a time for college students to unwind from an intense year of studies, to let their hair down, and party nonstop on the beaches of Florida. This year, some things are slightly different.
While Panama City has been a popular spring break destination for many years in the past, the 2015 spring break season was so out of control it led authorities to put some laws in place to curb the drunken violence that took place last year, reports AL.com. Drug busts, shootings, sexual assaults, and more have plagued the spring break season recently. The last straw seemed to be a horrifying gang rape that took place on the beach. As a poor girl was raped over and over again by several men, people nearby showed no concern. Even worse, someone recorded the rape and uploaded the video, which went viral.
The spring break violence has increased over the past few years, but it rose to such a drastic level in 2015 that authorities had to take drastic measures to stop it. Unfortunately, many Panama City Beach business owners feel the new laws not only stopped the crime but also stopped spring break altogether in that area of Florida.
Panama City Beach City Council approved new regulations in the attempt to keep the community and spring break vacationers safe. Only during March, alcohol cannot be sold after 2 a.m. In years past, party goers were able to purchase alcohol until 4 a.m. Adding to that, alcohol consumption on the beach has been completely banned, again only during the spring break season.
This rule has probably had the most controversy, as while it has contained the drunken violence and crime, it has also effectively ruined spring break in Panama City.
John Malko, a nearby business owner, says that although he understands authorities had to put measures in place to control the crime, they may have gone too far.
“They threw the baby out with the bathwater. Everyone’s going to be impacted because of [the ban]. The biggest impacts I’ve seen are people in the service industry don’t have work now; the money’s not there and the numbers don’t work… And I personally know a lady who has 60 condos and maybe three or four were booked.”
What is the impact of the alcohol on the beach ban in Panama City this Spring Break? https://t.co/O65B61yKP8
— WLFI News 18 (@WLFI) March 18, 2016
Drawn to crazy parties on the beach, a large portion of spring breakers have abandoned Panama City Beach in favor of Daytona Beach. The problem has simply moved from one Florida location to another. Although alcohol is not allowed on Daytona Beach, students have ignored the law, claiming they did not know any better.
Volusia County Beach Safety Chief Mark Swanson says they did not expect such a high volume of spring break traffic this year, reports WFTV 9.
“We have a very large group of spring breakers this year, a lot larger than we anticipated would be here. We think some of them are coming from Panama City; they decided to come here instead.
“As long as we’re showing presence, we’re showing that we’re there. The large majority of the crowd is very cordial, they’re compliant to what we want … although we always have the group that doesn’t want to be compliant, so we have to show them the way to do that.”
Spring break arrests in Daytona have reached 120 so far, encompassing violations such as littering and alcohol consumption by minors.
Spring break out of control in Daytona Beach, officials say https://t.co/C4p5rMO9y9pic.twitter.com/DgnAZYjFYu
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) March 18, 2016
There’s no doubt about it: spring break brings as much chaos as fun. What is the answer to bring an end to the violence without ruining spring break destinations? Unfortunately, no one seems to know. What do you think?
[Image via Shutterstock]