Spring Break Dying Down – We’re Almost There, Hang in there.

by March 23, 2009 • 30 comments


Well, I’ve tried my hardest to remain positive about the Spring Break situation on Panama City Beach, and I’ve done quite a great job, mind you.  I will say I’m constantly troubled by the ruckus they cause.  For those of you that are for the college spring break promotion, I challenge you to get in the thick of it and spend some time – sober – and your outlook may just change.  So far, we’ve had three deaths related to spring breakers, and who knows how many other crimes.  Mark Canfora, do you have any solid numbers from this year?

As many of you know, my mother-in-law owns a small rental business on the beach that my wife works for on weekends.  Last year, she said it was a ‘poop‘ year; this year she said it was a ‘puke’ year.  She was telling me that housekeepers found puke in seemingly random spots throughout condos and townhomes.  Thank goodness for damage deposits that cover increased cleaning fees.  I just can’t fathom leaving vomit and fecal matter just laying around.  I’m not the cleanest person out there, but that is just vile.  I was at one of the rentals this morning cleaning up where the breakers from last week just threw their trash wherever they pleased in the general area of the outside trash recepticle.  I filled 12 bags full of garbage that was just laying on the ground.  Thankfully I didn’t have to see any used condoms.  eww.

Well, the big weeks are over.  Last week we had a portion of the 2.1 millions kids out on break on our beaches, but this week only 690,000 kids are out on break nationwide.  This week our beaches should stay cleaner, our Wal-Mart less filled and the traffic a little calmer.  Next week only a third of who’s out on break this week will be celebrating spring break 2009.

Below are a list of schools out on break this week, courtesy of Tripsmarter.com.

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March 23-27, 2009 (Mon-Fri)

College / University


Air Force Academy


Alliant International University


Arkansas State University


Bard College


Birmingham-Southern College


Boise State University


Brown University


California Institute of Technology


Calvin College


Central Connecticut State University


Cerritos College


Colorado State University, Boulder


Columbia College Chicago


Depaul University


Eastern Connecticut State University


Elmhurst College


Elon University


Harvard University


Hudson Valley Community College


Huntingdon College


Idaho State University


Kent State University


Lewis & Clark College


Luther College


Mount Mercy College


Oregon State University


Pacific Lutheran University


San Jose State


Southern Arkansas University


Southern University at Baton Rouge


Tulane University


University of Arkansas, Little Rock


University of California, Berkeley


University of Central Arkansas


University of Colorado


University of Hawaii


University of Illinois, Chicago


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


University of Missouri-Columbia


University of Montevallo


University of North Alabama


University of Oregon


University of Rhode Island


University of San Francisco


Wellesley College


Western Connecticut State University


Wright State University




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1 Joe March 24, 2009 at 6:36 am

There has been a steady flow of ambulances going over the bridge and back this year. Rapes, overdoses, traffic accidents. It isn’t worth it. We are providing an opportunity for these kids to do wrong and injure themselves. Lives are being ended and ruined out there.


2 Sarah March 24, 2009 at 8:16 am

I totally agree with you on how nasty this year’s Spring Break has been. Last week my significant other and I tried to walk down the beach and it was covered in beer cans, beer bottles, clothes, plastic bags and any other type of trash that could be left on our beaches. I’m sure that the TDC in their town wouldn’t appreciate it if we were to destroy their most treasured assest. I was appalled at all the drunk young people who didn’t seem to care about “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”….


3 Patsy Wilbanks March 24, 2009 at 8:46 am

It is a shame that we will sell our beautiful beaches for dollars and to promote this kind of conduct. We will surely reap what we sow.


4 Lori Duncan March 24, 2009 at 10:04 am

I totally agree that changes need to be made in how our tax dollars are being used. That we ultimately pay for the destruction of our beautiful beaches, and worse, young lives are being ruined or harmed. We had guests this month at our place (away from all the trash), and they said it was like Spring Break never existed. But one evening they made the mistake of driving down Front Beach Road and said, “if we’d stayed at one of these places east of here, we’d have vowed NEVER to come back this time of year.” And they brought with them their 3 teenagers. I think this statement really gives a lot of insight as to what most of us have known all along. It tells us college kids are not the only ones wanting to vacation this time of year. And an even scarier scenario that “clean” tourist dollars are being scared off by trash (and I mean human trash). Sorry, I have to call this like I see it. The encouraging thing is, from what I read here, I know we’re not alone, in thinking that Spring Break can still bring in tourism dollars, without putting our beaches, and lives, at risk.


5 Mike McDonald March 24, 2009 at 11:37 am

This morning on a local TV station in Atlanta they were warning parents that 3 young adults had already been killed in drunken accidents in Panama City Beach. They went on to recommend that parents not allow their college kids to spend their spring break in such a place where the local authorities can’t seem to control the mahem.

Great publicity for us property owners that try to rent to families during spring break.


6 Hugh March 24, 2009 at 12:30 pm

From what I have seen, the police don’t even try to control the spring breakers. It is almost like the the kids give the police the finger and continue to put 8 people in the back of a pick-up while virtually evey car has an open container in it, this is all done while riding past patrol cars stationed on the side of Front Beach with not one of cars being stopped. If the laws were enforced, it would definately deter the law breakers.

If the Commissioners wanted the beach clean they could mandate the police give tickets to the law breakers and then assign each law breaker to work details for cleaning up the beach. Two days of lost vacation while cleaning the beach would probably eliminate much of the


7 Jellen March 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

We’re losing non-spring break business. Did you read the article in the News Herald by an Ontario man who has been visiting for 4 1/2 months every winter but won’t return due to untamed spring break hooiganism? Here is the article:


Just copy and paste it into your browser. I’ll bet this man and his spouse didn’t do as much damage, spent more and stayed longer than college kids. They probably also spread their “word of mouth” story to potential visitors like themselves and not the ‘hooligans’ he speaks of. It sounds like he used to tell a positive story but won’t do so now.

Let’s stop the college spring break damage.


8 Gregg March 24, 2009 at 8:55 pm

From what I understand, Fort Lauderdale turned it around in a single season and were much better off for it. We are a property owner but cannot vote. I wonder when the fine city government and TDC will wake up and figure promoting this yearly fiasco is hurting us all in the long run.


9 Alex March 25, 2009 at 11:51 am

I am planning on visiting PCB April 11-18. I am wondering when the crowds diminish from spring break? My fiance and I dont mind some crowds but I dont want it to ruin our vacation either. Did we chose a bad time to come or do you think we will be in the clear? We are staying at Long Beach. I have stayed there before in July and it seemed fairly peaceful. Thanks for your help!


10 Kirk Lancaster March 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Hi Alex – you are coming at a perfect time. If you are a big fan of jazz, you will be here for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival (http://www.seabreezejazzfestival.com). That’s the only big event during your stay. Pray for great weather, and enjoy the world’s most beautiful beaches!


11 Mark Canfora March 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Channel 7 News WJHG has a segment at 6pm on the “emergency meeting” called by Families & Friends 4 a Safe PCB. Discussed is PCB College/Student Spring Break’s tragic history. Meeting is at Arnold High School at 7pm Monday March 30.


12 Mark Canfora March 25, 2009 at 5:43 pm


We have a free event April 11, 2009 at Pier Park Amphitheatre.
Go to IveGotHope .com for more info…


13 Kirk Lancaster March 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Sorry, Mark, I didn’t mean to indicate your event was not “big.” Just was letting Alex know that the only big crowds coming from out of town would be for that event. But hey, I hope you have people driving in from all over too, and it draws huge crowds!


14 Sharon Ernst March 26, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I brought spring breakers to Panama City Beach for years, but they had rules. I still cannot believe all the parents who allow their underage teens to come down there with no parental supervision. You cannot fathom what it’s like until you experience it. As far as the kids getting sick everywhere….why in the world don’t the local authorities crack down on the companies selling alcohol? You know those kids aren’t bringing ALL of it with them. And, if the hotel employees or managers see their underage patrons with trucks full of beer, why can’t they make them pour them out? Because they don’t care about the damage the kids do. They just use their insurance companies to repair everything after the kids leave. It’s sad that no one other than the poor Panama City Police Dept. takes more responsibility to make the change in the “wildness” that happens. Ultimately the hotels just want their money for rent, no matter the cost.

Don’t mistake me. I think the young should be able to come enjoy their spring breaks, but it is up to the adults to teach them how to act respectfully. If they can’t act like decent humans, then perhaps someone should take the initiative to figure out a way to call their parents and make them come take them back to the state they came from!

Just a thought (or two).


15 Christina March 28, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I was driving down Thomas Dr. about 8:00p.m. midweek last week and we saw (me and my kids) a drunk girl (18-20 years of age) sitting on top of a car (no sun-roof or anything) just on top of the car yelling at pedestrians to take off their pants. What has this city come to? Are we so narrow-minded that all we can do is market to broke college kid’s that sleep 10 in a one-bedroom condo? Typically we leave town for spring break because of this chaos. They aren’t the only ones on spring break. Wake-up people… and smell the empty beer cans saturating the beach! You build it…they will come…well, they came…and it ain’t pretty. Time for a change…everything has it’s season…and hopefully MTV’s is over.


16 Joe March 31, 2009 at 7:10 am

Spring breakers go nuts for a week and go home. Our local kids live this insanity. Week in, week out.


17 karen smith March 31, 2009 at 7:17 am

Good morning from our beautiful west end of Panama City beach!!!! Thankfully I only get to hear about this madness and am not ruffled at all by because we live away from the fray. Purposely I may add.

I too am concerned about what Spring Break has become and I think that it would be a great idea to see if after the impact is counted to see if it makes a positive difference for our beach. I would guess that it does not. I must add that it does my soul good to see the groups that do come here to do good for our beaches and live in such a way to bring a good light to their families, of course we do not hear of that.

I have lived here a long time and I am also an ex Spring Breaker but things have changed considerably and I too want to have a beautiful safe beach for families. I am with the rest of you… thank God it is almost time for some calmness and serenity like we enjoy on the west end on a daily basis.


18 Concerned Owner March 31, 2009 at 7:32 am

These things run in cycles. I lived in S. Fla for years and recall when Daytona was the big ‘in’ place for the kids, then it was Ft Lauderdale etc.

First reactions are: Hey its great, lots of money coming in etc. Then it starts to get old and the kids get to be more of a pain in the rear and finally on the downslope the community just wants them GONE!

The locals pressure the city/county elected officials and eventually there are enough complaints that the word goes out to the PD to start writing littering tickets and crack down on loud steros, drunk inpublic etc and the kids finally decide it isn’t that great in that city and start looking around for the next ‘in spot’.

PCB is close to slamming the door on the spring break crowd, their welcome is pretty close to being worn out. Of course the beach hotels/condos and businesses will put up a fight to keep the kids as they mean money in the pocket for them but I can see the tide is turning and soon PCB will no longer attract so many kids and things will return to normal for the actual residents.

BH, PCB Condo owner
nautiluscondosrules. blogspot. com


19 Wag the Dog March 31, 2009 at 8:01 am

I agree with those who believe spring break
will run it’s course. It seems to be a growing pain…and you can read that several ways…

Hooray for those who are working to find alternatives.
I rent to snowbirds and they are welcome to stay through Spring Break. I am not in the condos who cater to Spring Break and push the Snowbirds out on 1 March, so my folks do not have a problem with kids puking, etc.

One of my snowbirds rental ended yesterday. When the cleaning crew went in, they literally had NOTHING

Yes, my snowbirds pay less rent during the winter, but my place is full and your sprink break rental is probably empty 90% of the time (I can see the lights in the condos on the beach at night…). Add in the damage
the spring breakers do ($1000 in damage is easy to do and while it can be repaired, it is still repaired damage), and who comes out ahead ? ME. One of my neighbors will NEVER rent to spring breakers again because of the damage.

I have less trouble, less maintenance, a nicer place, steadier cash flow, and better renters.

more on other stuff later


20 JS March 31, 2009 at 8:27 am

SB will eventually subside. If members of the community put together their own campaign stating some new rules and regulations that will be ENFORCED during SB 2010, that news will travel fast in the SB blogs. Daytona implemented mobile jails (lock up trailers that everyone could see lawbreakers inside) street side in the early 90’s that told the story. That received enough attention that students brought back photos and worse, memories of being caged up for their lawbreaking actions. If we make it difficult to party instead of the way it is now, we can accelerate the process of eliminating the majority of the problem.

Currently, there is no beach enforcement of underage drinking which if changed, would stop SB in its tracks. How about police on 4 wheelers cruising the beach verifying age of alcohol consumers? I’ve seen it work in other beach communities.

If the clubs were 21 and up, the beach enforced the 21 and up drinking law, we would not be having this conversation-



21 Jason Koertge March 31, 2009 at 8:31 am

Bingo Bango JS. We need to put laws into place and ENFORCE them. This will completely change the message that is going out.

right now kids think they can just come down here, drink regardless of age, throw their trash on the ground, and no one cares. We need to tell them that they are wrong and we do care by putting laws into place and enforcing them.


22 Wag the Dog March 31, 2009 at 9:17 am

Folks wonder why the police don’t ____________ (fill in the blank here) during spring break.

It’s beacuse they are just flat overloaded.

We have a courtesy patrol here that is a deputy sherriff. He is going just about 24/7 during this time.

Has anyone considered the public safety impact to the rest of us ? It’s like a hidden tax, only worse !

You pay for the ambulance and police services, and expect they will be there, but they get sucked up by spring break shennanigans, and why?
To support idiots with bad behavior and the folks like LaVela and MTV that make thier money off of the spring break crowd.

Ocean Force Spring Break (or whatever the TV show was that showed the PCB cops) did not show everything. It was tame. It showed an alligator “escaping” from a novelty store. Give me a break ! It did not show the rapes, the drug busts, the grisly accidents.

The fact is that the cops do confiscate the booze, but they would need another whole army to haul it all off.

The fact is that any kid under 21 knows to have an upperclassman buy the beer. It’s been going on for 40 years and more….

A ratio of 30,000 spring breakers to 30 cops (these are the numbers from the TV show) with 5% of the spring breakers acting up (1500) all over the beach is just not tenable.

You will not catch every one with an illicit beer in this “misdemeanor crime wave” and you simply need to focus on the felony stuff like drugs, rapes, etc.


23 Wag the Dog March 31, 2009 at 9:19 am

The mobile jails will help.

The military calls that a force multiplier.

Need more good ideas out there
to leverage what forces we have…


24 Tom March 31, 2009 at 10:46 am

As a resident of Bay County’s Beaches for over 20 years, I am proud to host the greatest minds of our country for a few weeks. They are the seeds of our future. The puke you clean up this morning may come from the mind that cures the common cold. What greater source could it come from?
We as a community do not have a clue of what to expect from our young. Our expectations do not come from a thought out vision, rather a knee jerk no when it comes to the beaches. First it was no signs at HY 20 to direct traffic down 79 for a more even traffic flow across outdated bridge, then no to placing the bridge in a northern location to provide a second bridge to the community, then the Lynn Haven residents that says no to an airport and the no’s have a binding nonbinding referendum whose current airport is the most expensive in the state. Who are these great minds that guide this community? I think every comment that is published for public consumption should come with an IQ number to preface for reference especially if it pertains to anything concerning the beach or the airport. Our residents have more to fear from our own guardianships’ than we will ever have to fear from spring breaker. How can we be as upset over trash as our police killing one of our children, how can we get this upset about convicting transients just because we don’t agree with the way they live. How can we get this upset about police gang tackling a grieving son whose father was killed by a hormone fortified chase?
We have a choice, we can cultivate these great minds and create a positive fruitful future for them and ourselves or we say no to anything that is an inconvenience, place more restrictions and ruin more lives. I have a sick feeling the answer will include more jail time.


25 Christina March 31, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I don’t think you have to be a genius to know that college spring breaker as it is, is a huge problem. What is your idea of cultivating their precious minds? Another wet t-shirt contest, all-you-can-drink contest, crazy & sexy contest, three hours of free beer and sex on the beach (this was from an add at Hamerhead Fred’s)? A spring breaker that rapes a girl may end up inventing a cure for cancer someday? I don’t see your point…


26 Jellen March 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Tom, you forgot to post your IQ measurement before you provided your opinion. I disagree that IQ matters, but mine is higher than the MENSA threshold. I doubt that will matter to you though because I disagree with you. The cure for the common cold can come from someone who does not puke on the beach. And so what if a genius wants to puke on the beach? Why in the world would that person’s potential matter? It’s irrelevant. It’s the puke on the beach that is the issue here. Regardless of who does the disrespectful or illegal act, it would still be an act that we don’t want and do not have to put up with in PCB.

Regarding your other point, people who vote to limit access to the area have a right to do so. Maybe they haven’t thought it out well but maybe they have. Maybe they want to keep things small and local or maybe they don’t want to pay more taxes. It’s their perogative to vote however they please, regardless of IQ.

I am not proud to host the college kids who don’t respect the PCB community as the home it is. I am proud to host the kids who come to enjoy the area and don’t destroy property or leave a mess for someone else to clean up. Even the traffic jams on Front Beach Road are okay with me. It makes me smile to see them yelling and flirting and having fun. But there are activities that degrade the individual and give PCB, as host, a black eye. I’d like to see spring break scaled way back because of those activities.


27 ann April 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

Spring Break came it stimulated the economy and it’s gone. Believe it or not we will all be back to normal
before the day is over. I do realize people lost their lives but with their stupid behavior choices I believe it could have happened anywhere. Who really knows how these kids behave in their own home town. I believe good parenting is everything and over the years the kids have become more and more disrespectful to property and themselves. I am happy to say we survived without any major problem. Over all our Spring Breakers were good and in control of themselves.


28 Christina April 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm


Are you saying the spring breaker that was killed by another spring breaker that was drunk and ran him over with his car and took off was somehow his fault? How dare he walk down a street that has no sidewalks…what kind of parents could have raised such a child…see the absurdity??? Did you ever do anything when you were young that could have ended tragically. Teenagers tend to do stupid things when in large groups and especially when they’re drinking. Try and see those dead kid’s as real people and apart of your own family. Do you have any teenagers in your family? If they were tragically killed would you blame them for acting stupid? Have any friends that dress a little sexy…if they were to get raped would you say they were asking for it? When we are the perpetrator we want mercy…when we are the victims we want justice…I’m surprised when people side with the perpetrators and ignore the victims…you should be ashamed.


29 Bryan Durta April 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Yes, the college spring breakers are gone. But we are not back to normal. The mentality lives here year-round.

Yes, the college spring breakers stimulated our economy. And now our tourist economy will suffer for the rest of the year as a result of our family-unfriendly reputation.


30 Lori Duncan April 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm

I wanted to mention a decision my husband and I made after ONE visit to New Orleans. We’ll NEVER go back.

The summer (before) Katrina hit, we were there overnight before taking a cruise. As we walked down Bourbon Street, all we could smell was puke and alcohol. And we were there in the month of June, not February durig Mardi Gras.

Yeah, it’s a party town and that’s pretty much how many describe it. When you think of N.O., you think of parades, beads, flashing, drinking on the street, beads, nudity, more flashing, trash (tons of it), more puke, etc. Yeah, I’ll never bring my grandkids there! Yes, N.O. has great music, some great restaurants and tons of history. But it’s sadly overshadowed by it’s reputation for a place for individuals to lose their inhibitions. The cops just grin and look the other way as long as nobody gets hurt. It’s disgusting. I’d hate to see PCB be thought of this way. It would be sad to see our families who visit PCB vow to never return because laws and ordinances are not enforced.