2010 Spring Break Largely A Success: One Setback

by March 29, 2010 • 21 comments

It’s that special time of year when we can finally sit back and assess the damage of Spring Break on Panama City Beach. Well, after interviewing Hotel and Condo representatives, living and breathing Spring Break as a resident and taking in the major incidents, only one conclusion could be made: 2010 Spring Break was a success.

This year’s Spring Break was different than previous Breaks for a number of reasons. The TDC’s stance had a huge impact. In past years, it was the TDC’s job to allocate marketing funds towards Spring Break. Hundreds of thousands of bed tax dollars, for years, were put toward drawing fun-loving students aching to party the week away. For 2010, the TDC decided not to allocate funds towards drawing big crowds, but put the monies towards “Spring Break Responsibly” campaigns and engaging in proactive Spring Break public relations activities. On top of that, the TDC requested of the city to hire auxiliary police during peak weeks, augment PCB PD to increase police presence along Front Beach Road, provide additional foot, canine and ATV patrols in areas of high Spring Break activity (including beach walkers to enforce littering, glass and other laws) and to fully implement the Special Events Ordinance to insure gatherings of college students at outdoor concerts and other assemblies have appropriate management and public safety plans in place. In other words, instead of spending money on bringing a crowd, the TDC worked on how to handle the crowd.

2010’s Spring Break also differed because of who actually spent marketing dollars for spring break: the local co-op. Panama City Beach’s Co-Op, led by Jack Bishop and Collegiate Marketing Group LLC, drew funds together to promote Spring Break. As usual, huge crowds followed and, as usual, Spring Break looked as if it were back to its crazy-old, polarizing self.

But, after speaking with a hotel desk clerk (who asked that her name and company remain anonymous) Spring Break wasn’t as bad as it seemed. “We were sold out every week.” She said. “And I think the campaigns worked. The kids were bad, but not as bad as usual. Incidents reports were down and damages too.”

She went on to tell me that the worst incident was a fight and that police arrive quickly enough before it got too rowdy.

“Last year,” she said, “we had a bunch of fights and the police couldn’t get here in time.”

A condo manager who also asked to remain anonymous noted the increase in business and the decline in reported damages. “We did better this year than last.” He said.

Still, Spring Break was not without its major incidents. If you read the paper over the course of the last few weeks, the arrests for Spring Break 2010 were up significantly from 2009, a direct result of the increase of law enforcement on the beach. Special event ordinances worked to keep crowds lower than they have been in the past. Overall, there were heads in beds which generated huge revenue, there were lots of people but additional law enforcement to maintain them and significant marketing dollars which would have normally been spent can now be moved towards positively managing PCB’s image and Public Relations.

But, there was one setback: traffic. A successful spring break by comparison could not put a dent in the traffic. I guess, you can’t have it all. Nonetheless, it should be said that Spring Break is a tough beast to handle. In a perfect world the students would be exemplary, the streets would be driveable and locals would be happy. PCB has been in the SB business for years and has never been able to good grip on it. 2010 is as close as we’ve come.

So, with that said, to all the members of our TDC, job well done guys.

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1 Dave Walter March 30, 2010 at 7:13 am

This is good news for me. Sounds like the beauty of the beach was shared in an appropriate way.


2 Vicki March 30, 2010 at 7:15 am

So glad to hear the positive review – we love our Home Away from Home and want others to be able to enjoy it too.


3 Pat March 30, 2010 at 8:20 am

Spring Break Better????? It depends on who you ask.

A long time Snowbird coming to PCB for the last 11 years said ” We hate to leave now that Spring Break has eased up. They were worse than ever this year.

A doctor in the ER at one of the local hospials said “The ER was worse than it has ever been” They never publish the photos of the kids I treat here? It might be a real eye opening experience for those with blinders on”.

The Newspaper publishes another Spring Break Death
” Published: Thu, March 25, 2010 – 10:46 am CST
Last Updated: Thu, March 25, 2010 – 10:51 am CST
PANAMA CITY, Florida – Authorities have yet to release the identity of a 19-year-old spring breaker from Georgia who died after falling five stories from a Panama City Beach motel balcony.”

Several Residents asked “where were all the extra police we paid for?”


4 Jim March 30, 2010 at 9:31 am

Several Residents asked “where were all the extra police we paid for?”

They were out trying to find a tie and button up shirt.


5 Maureen March 30, 2010 at 9:44 am

I doubt the extra police could have prevented this young man’s death. He was likely drinking or on drugs and showing off for his friends, then fell. Even if a police office were standing outside looking up at the kid while he demonstated his belief in his own immortality, they likely could not have prevented this tragedy. However, that same newspaper did report the arrest of a Mosley student who brought a knife to school and the chase and subsequent capture of a man from Callaway who fled police, rammed his truck into a telephone phone and nearly hit a police car before ending up in a ditch (local now) who was charged with, among other things, felony drug possession. But you focused your example solely on the spring break incident, which by the way, could happen to a 19 year old living in a condo in PCB. I call that selective memory and an itch to gripe.


6 Leo March 30, 2010 at 4:26 pm

How about spending some time in the ER during Spring Break with the doctor?
He doesn’t have time for what you call ” a selective memory and an itch to gripe”.


7 jamnolfin March 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Everybody has a job to do. The doctor can whine and gripe but my son in law is a BCSO and he said its was alot calmer this year. He said if it wasnt for the one bad (BET) weekend it wouldve been a perfect spring compared to the last few. Emergency rooms have all kinds of problems on any crowded weekend not just spring break.


8 Maureen March 31, 2010 at 9:45 am

Leo: Please re-read what I wrote before making any comment, especailly since you commented incorrectly. I never said anything about there not being an increase in accidents during spring break. I was commenting on Pat’s comment about what a doctor had said about the ED being so busy. Well, what were the statistics, per capita, for that same time period? Now that would be a better indicator of just how many accidents occurred during spring break, and not just because of spring breakers. My argument about the boy falling from the balcony still stands. This could happen anytime, not just during spring break, causing some residents to wonder “where were all the extra police we paid for?” You know Leo, you just cannot control lunacy, whether it be pathologic or alcohol induced. By the way, and you might get a real chuckle from this, by I am a nurse who has worked in the ED, so I am not unfamiliar with these events, nor the events that occur on a day to day basis, something that Pat failed to mention when citing the article about the death reported in the newspaper on the 25th. Since the paper deemed the knife wielding student and the drugged out/drunk driver from Callaway, who could both have caused massive casualties, worthy of print in that same paper, it seems like Pat would have thought it important too, but Pat jumped on the only article about an accident attributed to spring break. As I said, selective memory and an itch to gripe.


9 beachbum March 31, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Why is the Weather Channel in Destin promoting families at their beach instead of the beaches of Panama City Beach?

I wonder if the Spring Break image of PCB with drunken college kids trashing our beach is the reason.


10 captgeobob March 31, 2010 at 6:26 pm

The owner at the Summit that was nearly beaten to death probably wishes he had stayed inside during spring break. He was 70 years old. Sad, very sad.


11 Jan April 1, 2010 at 7:26 am

I loved the article alot!!!…but…some of these comments are pretty rude..(Maureen) It would be much nicer to just state you opinion, without the arrogant adjectives following thecomments. Lets all play nice!


12 jobeibi April 1, 2010 at 10:09 am

My ER doc friend said that there were a lot of girls in his ER requesting rape kits. I wonder if the assault rate was that high, or if it was the fact that the Plan B emergency contraceptive people were promoting their product very heavily on the beach this year.


13 leanna April 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Jobeibi you are NUTS. I’ll leave it at that.


14 Jeremy April 1, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I think Spring Break is good for Panama City and always has been. Some people will fuss about anything. It reminds me of the Democrats in Washington…wanting to make a bunch of changes that will do nothing but hurt the economy. We need to leave it alone. This is not the economy to be experimenting in. And yes, I live on the beach and deal with it everyday.


15 chris April 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm

It’s all over the news throughout the US that there is yet another death this weekend (4/3) in PCB related to Spring Break. Apparently a belligerent, drunk student fell off a balcony at the Days Inn in Panama City Beach. What wonderful press for Panama City Beach. Why would families want to come here for Spring break? Please, PCB officials, chamber of commerce….do something to save the reputation of PCB.


16 Jan April 4, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Yes, that story is all over the AP, NCAA fanhouse, and every other news site!! Also said they had chaperones…….. wow what a great job they did monitoring a 17 year old drunk at 6:30- at night!!!


17 will April 6, 2010 at 11:59 am

i know right


18 will April 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

man it was the best week of my life i cant wait for next year and for summer of 2010


19 Don April 6, 2010 at 10:02 pm

AOL Travel has article on spring break vacations and guess what city landed the #1 place to avoid during Spring Break — None other than Panama City Beach.


20 Noel B. April 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I think having the music video filmed here during spring break contributed a huge spike this year in overall traffic.


21 Donna April 13, 2010 at 11:02 am

Ya’ll can go on and on till you’re blue in the face about statistics, but facts are facts. PCB needs SB revenue! Every year there is a huge debate about bad PR, but people continue to come each year. As for snowbirds that complain about SB, shame on you! All snowbirds have the option to leave PCB before the SB kids arrive. If you choose to stay, you can deal w/ the chaos just like the locals endure it year after year. Spring Breakers spend as much room rent for one week as a Snowbird spends in a month. And I’m willing to bet that a group of Spring Breakers spends more cash on partying, food, clothes, ect. in a week than a couple of Snowbirds spend in the entire 4 months of their stay. That’s why locals who depend on tourist dollars barely survive the winter. Anyone that can afford to complain obviously doesn’t need the tremendous amount of revenue those crazy kids produce, so relocate. The rest of us will continue to remind ourselves “It’s only a few weeks”. And for those who choose to continue to complain, try a different approach. Introduce yourselves to a few spring breakers at the beginning of their stay. They are more likely to show respect and humility to someone they recognize. It’s all about your attitude. If you carry negative energy around you, the positive energy cannot reach you! Good luck & try not to give yourselves a stroke!