5 things to Expect (& Not Expect) at the Spring Break Community Forum

by August 4, 2009 • 11 comments

As you may know, on August 19th the TDC and CVB will have a community forum to discuss Panama City Beach Spring Break and whether or not marketing funds should be allocated to bolster the annual raucous event. Now, no doubt some of you are rolling your eyes, others are chomping at the bit to bequeath their 2 cents, but after reading many of the comments left after my recent post, I thought it might be a good idea to preface the forum with some possible expectations. The Spring Break topic is the single most polarizing concern on the minds of residents and business owners and often conversations on the topic kindle contentious emotions. To date, all conversations have ended in dialectal stalemates. And it should be noted, the purpose of the forum isn’t to promote or to undermine any particular argument, but is an attempt to find a middle ground in all this. So, what should we expect?

Civility (Hopefully):

Spring break makes people act crazy…and that’s not just the kiddies coming down for college. Residents get crazy just talking about how breakers destroy everything in their wake. The emotions are so deep-seeded on that topic, that simple conversations can become very, very contentious. It is important that the topic be seen from both sides. Yes, business owners make lots of money and yes, residents are uncomfortable in their own homes. Both perspectives are valid. But losing your cool in a public forum won’t solve any problems. So keep it cool and civil.

Long-Winded Comments:

No time limits or rules of order will keep people from squeezing every last drop out of their point. But those of you who plan to unleash their carefully written dissertation on why spring break is demonic or why we need spring break economically, trust me, mostly it’s been heard before. The focus of the forum should not be on your spring break experience, good or bad, but on trying to inch our way towards the middle of the road.

Passionate Arguments:

I am a huge proponent of individuals being passionate about something. And, to some degree, public forums are supposed to encourage how people truly feel about a topic. These ideals, on which you passionately stand, will on some occasions become full-blown arguments. This is to be expected. It is important, however, that we try to be respectful. If someone breaks down into tears while speaking their view, see it for what it’s worth. I’ve personally witnessed this happen and several audience members rolled their eyes in disdain. This is a topic people do feel very passionate about and as inclusive members in the “community” forum, we should be respectful.

Don’t Expect Answers:

This forum is not meant to stamp out any and all inquiries with answers. In fact, it is the opposite of a Q and A. This forum is for local businessmen and women, residents and even some vacationers to voice their opinion to our governing body. It is a place to speak and to listen. Don’t expect to leave knowing one way or another how everything will turn out because in the end there will not be a spring break final solution. It is more likely you’ll leave with more questions than answers.

Don’t Expect The End of Spring Break:

No matter if every single person in the forum is against spring break, the truth of the matter is, spring break won’t end tomorrow. In fact, spring break won’t ever “end” because as long as Panama City Beach exists the breakers will come. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how you tone it down, we all must understand that putting money into spring break or putting money into a campaign to eradicate it won’t change it much either way. Consider spring break the vacation roach, if you will. It will keep coming back, be it with college kids, families or something different entirely, we just have to figure out a way to live with it the best way we can.

The community forum will be held Wednesday August 19th at City Hall.

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1 mark canfora August 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm

In the long history of Panama City Beach-

This is the only ongoing promotion, event, gathering and party, we as a community allow where our visitors have been REPEATEDLY been robbed, stabbed, shot, raped & even our own PC Beach police officer Kevin Kight murdered on Easter Sunday-Spring Break 2005.

I know it is not always the students in some cases, but the element that follow them and the “party”. Officer Kight’s murderer came here “for spring break, to party and pick up women.” As quoted in his murder trial.

It is a new time and a new day here. Going back to promoting College Spring Break is like a dog returning to his vomit. The only answer to these tragedies from supporters of CSB is money. We will replace the money and have a better, cleaner image. No more.


2 jellen August 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm

If “the purpose of the forum isn’t to promote or to undermine any particular argument” then it should not be announced as “an attempt to find a middle ground” because ending at a middle ground is a third position. It should not be a foregone conclusion that the outcome is compromise rather than any other definitive outcome. Otherwise, why bother? It might be that the outcome will be compromise, but allow the dialogue to determine that. You should not be trying to steer the outcome.


3 Bill Harris August 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm

“spring break won’t ever end”

But it will sure wind down if we stop running TV spots promoting it and it will if the local PD starts to crack down on all the baloney. Both Ft Lauderdale and Daytona got things under control after many years in the 60’s and 70’s of having kids run wild in their communities. The same can happen here, it will take a few years but the word will get out. We can also start letting the bikers know it is time to move on.


4 mark canfora August 4, 2009 at 11:06 pm


You wrote: “Consider spring break the vacation roach, if you will.”

This COLLEGE, Not Family- Spring Break” vacation roach” of a 25 year ongoing nightmare has many snakes and societies worst element that follow: Little Wayne, 50-Cent, MTV, Joe Francis, Girls Gone Wild, all while Ocean Force TV videos the madness and airs it in all 50 states.

News media from Dallas, Houston, Birmingham, Atlanta to the Mid-West & East coast reporting the annual deaths to millions & millions of viewers. The never-ending newspaper articles on the multiple drug induced rapes. Talk to the emergency room workers, doctors, EMS, police and Sheriffs Dept. It is a horrifying nightmare.

Cebo, If you or I threw “the party” where kids overdosed, fell from our balcony and died, girls were raped, children died of alcohol poisoning and many are run over by drunken invited guests, etc. etc. etc….
Cebo, What would they do to you or me?

Would anyone in authority allow this to continue year after year after year if you or I threw the party?

Would a civilized community just sit idly by and say or do nothing of these attrocities?

C’mon Cebo, what if it was you that got that phone call that your child was killed & run over by a drunk driver from the party, or your daughter raped & thrown from the 6th floor of the building to die…only to live with that horror.? Your wife or husband murdered for simply doing their job?
Passion? tears shed…? I would hope so.
It’s hard to ride the fence when so much is at stake.

God has truly blessed us with a most beautiful area and community.
Let’s celebrate a new time and a new day here on PCB.
Mark Canfora
Families & Friends For
A Safe Panama City Beach
SafePCB .com


5 Cebo Campbell August 4, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Mark, before you going throwing ill will towards my daughter perhaps you should take a deep breath.

Instead of conjuring up images of spring break atrocities, start thinking of “logical” solutions. We are all well aware of what College Spring Break is capable of doing and honestly, my personal view is to end the whole mess entirely. Logically, though, such a thing is simply not possible in the short term.

We are all working towards a similar goal. I would appreciate it if you kept the conversation serious but civil and most importantly stay away from the personal stabs. It is not very becoming and your argument is immediately invalidated.


6 mark canfora August 5, 2009 at 12:19 am


Ill will towards your daughter? That was not my intention whatsoever….sorry if you mistook it that way. I was hoping you and others might put yourself in the shoes of that parent, those families, etc. Sorry once again.

I was trying to get you and others to see the pain caused by this ongoing “event failure” as one TDC member called it.

The straight forward attempt is to have you feel compassion towards the thousands of victims of CSB. There are thousands of wounded victims, families, etc over the 25 years. I am not exaggerating or embellishing. The police, hospital, coroner, etc. records back this up.

You have taken jabs indirectly at me in previous posts for the passion and tears shed “during a heartfelt prayer” for the 3 deceased students last year at the TDC meeting.

I won’t even research to quote you. You made no mention of why those tears were shed.

I have offered and continue to offer alternatives for CSB with families coming here for spring break. I have worked closely with Mike Bennett of the TDC and Sea Haven. Our youth ministry had “A Celebration of Life & Family” Festival at Pier Park this past Easter weekend that nearly 3000 attended during the day long “family” event.
Toddlers to grandparents attended pictures on are our site at http://www.ivegothope .com

The newly designated “Spring Break Family weeks” in April and “Family Reunions” were presented to the TDC by me and our group also in 2008.

I recently submitted proposals to TDC members Buddy Wilkes & Mike Bennett for 4 straight weeks of concerts up and down the beach during the months of March-April with top Country, Rock, Christian and Pop bands for all ages.

There are solutions and bringing families, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma and grandpa here is the key. They spend the money and will return once we go that direction.


7 RC August 8, 2009 at 7:50 am

I suppose what amazes me is how PCB police and many residents simply tolerate illegal activity during March that is not tolerated the rest of the year. Just enforce the law.

Spring break won’t go away, it will simply morph into a more law abiding pary. That will in effect bring in a different (family) crowd.


8 Gregg August 8, 2009 at 9:08 am

RC, that is what amazes me also, during this times what are the PCB police thinking……….or not!


9 Charles Mason August 11, 2009 at 10:35 am


Your stats… are a collection of YEARS to produce fear into uninformed people. Have you considered starting your own church?

Look at this FACT: 2008 had 11, yes eleven, drownings. Hum, that’s more then the past five years of spring break deaths, yet it was only one year. Oh and by the way, that doesn’t include any other death during 2008, which are tourist related.

So again Mark, and Cebo is right, take a deep and think logically and be honest.


10 Mark Canfora August 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm


I am sure you would agree that any death is an ongoing nightmare to the victim’s families and bad for our community. Why are you so cavalier to the point of coming across cold and uncaring about the thousands of victims?

I do agree the 11 drownings are tragic. The city and county decisions through the years not to spend money for life guards was a shame too. Life guards & proper flag warning systems & promotions prevent drownings and has been proven. We address that safety issue too on our web site. Check it out at safepcb.com

Can you answer the rest of the points in my posts at your leisure. Itemize them if you will.

Especially this point: that “if you or I through the party where rapes occur, deaths and tragedies…what would happen? The fact the PC and the TDC throw the party makes it alright?

We will never pull back on this event-nightmare as long as the TDC and city promotes this historicly tragic event.

What does “starting a church” have to do with an event that repeatedly has had deaths, rapes and harms our “invited guests” and the murder of PC officer Kight?

Ignoring this ongoing nightmare is over. We have attorneys, doctors, emergency room personel, teachers, pastors, retired police and EMS workers with us.

If the TDC continues this promotion-We will call for an “independent” investigation of the “facts” related to CSB. I assure you these numbers are horrifying when looked at over the 20-25 years.