Spring Break: a time that for some that can feel like an endless party with music, beach happenings, and of course drinking beer. However, if tourists plan to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama, they’re out of luck.
According to CBS News, the city passed an emergency order this weekend banning alcohol on beaches during spring break until April 17. The order came following the arrests of more than 600 people since March 5.
“Most of the arrests come down to public intoxication, minor in possession of alcohol. Those are our two biggest categories of arrests,” said Bill Cowan, a police lieutenant in Gulf Shores.
Grant Brown, a spokesperson for The City of Gulf Shores said that no alcohol can be consumed between the waterline and the dunes, as reported by Nola.com. Anyone who violates this new law will be subjected to either six months in jail or a fine of around $500.
“The city has a responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents and visitors and an obligation to protect the reputation of the city as a family-friendly destination,” said Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft in a statement released by the city’s website.
Craft continued, “In order to keep spring break in Gulf Shores a safe environment, it is time we take action.”
Craft also noted that his city has seen an increase of college students visiting the beaches for their spring break in recent years.
“Gulf Shores has long been known as a favorite beach destination for families from across the Southeast and Midwest,” said Craft. “We again want to reiterate that we are a family-friendly destination that welcomes visitors of all ages to enjoy our beaches and destination responsibly.”
According to Alabama.com, The Gulf Shores city council released a statement noting that prolonged alcohol consumption can cause an increased risk to public safety and is associated with “undesirable behavior.”
Reactions from college students ready for spring break has been anywhere from mixed feelings to some feeling that the police are acting in an overly aggressive manner.
“I know we’re being drunk and we are on spring break, but we’re still adults. We’re in college,” said Christian Gerring, a student at Texas A&M. “We know what we’re doing and they act like we are children.”
Bradley Gusin, a Louisiana State University who will be attending law school in the fall, says he can understand where the city is coming from, but he feels the timing was bad.
“It’s going to put a hamper on a lot of people’s spring breaks since a lot of people go to drink there on the beach,” said Gusin, who’s been going to Gulf Shores for three years during spring break.
Gusin continued, “A lot of people have already paid their deposits. It kind of seems like a knee-jerk reaction.”
Ike Williams, the owner of Ike’s Beach Service, agrees that the decision is rash and that the students visiting for spring break are just kids after all.
“If they are 21 years old and making a mess, write them a ticket,” said Williams. “But a lot of adults forget when they were kids and they forget about their spring break.”
One has to wonder if businesses will be hurt by the alcohol ban. Panama City has seen that problem, according to The Ledger. Bars, restaurants, and other businesses have seen their sales drop as much as 85 percent and have had to let employees go due to a recent alcohol ban.
Jamie Yuccas, a CBS contributor, noted that the laws designed to stop spring break partying will just make people take the troubles associated with partying somewhere else.
In fact, the city of Orange Beach, Alabama, made a statement on Saturday saying that alcohol will not be banned unless it were to become out of hand.
“We don’t have a city beach,” said Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, in an interview for Alabama.com. He noted that much of the coastline is private property.
Kennon continued, “We don’t have a hangout right in the middle of our downtown recruiting college age kids to hang out.”
(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)