This week in Spring Break 2008, Panama City Beach

by March 24, 2008 • 88 comments

Last week was indeed the big week, but it’s still not over. My in-laws own a rental management company on the beach that my wife works at on weekends. She said yesterday, “this must be the vomit and poop week.” She said they found human feces on the living room floor in one home and feces on a window sill in another home with vomit all over the place. gross.

Click the “more” link for a list of schools in town this week”

I guess everyone has a different outlook based on their experiences. It is easy to generalize with extreme cases like this.

Courtesy of, the schools that are here this week are:

Louisiana Tech University
Eastern Michigan University
McNeese State University
Southeastern Louisiana University
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
University of Central Arkansas
Harvard University
West Virginia University
University of Missouri-Columbia
Texas A&M University
University of Cincinnati
University of Arkansas-Little Rock
Gulf Coast Community College
University of Illinois-Chicago
Southeast Missouri State University
Ohio University
Chemeketa Community College
University of Oregon
Idaho State University
Indiana University Southeast
Portland State University
University of North Alabama
Boise State University
Missouri State University
Berkeley College – NYC

The schools that were here last week were:

Ohio State University
Collin County Community College
Houston Community College System
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
Colgate University
University of Northern Iowa
University of Dayton
University of Montevallo
University of Massachusetts
University of West Georgia
Normandale Community College
Howard University
University of IL at Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa
Emporia State University
University of Rochester
Texas Tech University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Cornell University
Sarah Lawrence College
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
University of Nebraska-Omaha
Pace University
Miami University – Oxford
Tarrant County College
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
University of Chicago
Depaul University
Southern Arkansas University
University of Arkansas
George Washington University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Southern University
Drake University
Iowa State University
Fort Hays State University
Kansas State University
University of Kansas-Lawrence
Bridgewater State College
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Columbia University in the City of New York
Iona College
University of Central Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
Clemson University
South Dakota State University
University of Texas at Arlington
Liberty University
Auburn University
University of Alabama-Huntsville
Arkansas State University
Central Connecticut State University
Eastern Connecticut State University
Western Connecticut State University
University of North Florida
Des Moines Area Community College
St. Louis University
New York University
St. John’s University
University of Houston
Wichita State University
Louisiana State University
University of New Orleans
Hofstra University
Kent State University
University of Akron
Winthrop University
Madison Area Technical College
Samford University
Manchester Community College
University of St. Thomas
University of South Dakota
Oklahoma State University

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1 Bob March 24, 2008 at 7:21 am

This is the reason that PCB needs to change its image to a family vacation spot and not a college or high school spring break destination.


2 Michelle March 24, 2008 at 9:18 am

To all of you who say “spring breakers are just having a good time” must NOT live on the beach or you’re blind. I experienced girls dancing topless on top of there car rooftops during a traffic stop in the middle of middle beach road… was throwing up out the window….come on….and for any of you who listen to Burnie Thompson know about the other problems with these LaVela, Sandpiper, wet tshirt contest with girls having relations with each other on stage and guys forming a line to join in…….this is our youth….sad…


3 Mary March 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm

No, this is how we don’t have rules/enforce rules here in PCB. That’s the sad part.

Do you let someone else’s kids in your house, let them tear it apart without saying anything and then complain about them after they leave and blame their parents? I hope not, but that’s exactly what we’re doing here. MAKE SOME RULES! GET BUSINESSES TO COMPLY! GET POLICE INVOLVED!

There is always activity on middle beach at stop lights, especially when the traffic is backed up. Wouldn’t that necessitate a police officer or two parked in strategic places, monitoring behavior??? There are simple solutions for the issues if people take the time to THINK and DO SOMETHING!

I would personally like to see what this town is made of. If Jason put a link up for volunteers to form a task force to help come up with ideas and take action to ‘clean up the beach’ in more ways than one, is this town the type that will step up? Or is this board full of lazy, uninvolved complainers?

You will get out of this town exactly what you put into it. If you choose to put nothing into it, or to only do the bare minimum, expect the same back. On the other hand, if you believe in charity and service and regard this town as belonging to you and take responsibility, this town will become everything that you’d hoped for.

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.” -Albert Einstein


4 JD March 24, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Nice way to continue with the negative spin without offering any answers.
Let’s move forward (like with the suggestions people have given) or move on.
This is turning into gossip column central – let’s dish anything negative we hear, true or not!


5 David March 24, 2008 at 9:29 pm

The last two weeks have been terrible here. I live on the beach in a Resort. I do something about it, I see to it that everyone we catch doing anything illegal or against the rules get evicted or arrested.

I send your site link to many of my customers. Is “Puke and Vomit Week” and Feces refrences something you should quote for your story if we are trying to raise the image of Panama City?


6 Grant March 24, 2008 at 9:31 pm

You guys should look at what Daytona Beach did to clean up their Spring Break. It still exists, but I heard it has become more family-friendly there due to their changes.


7 Grant March 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm

We need more people like David. Usually when I hear stories, the people telling them didn’t do anything to stop what was going on.


8 Patrick March 24, 2008 at 10:08 pm

It is amazing to me how some people have nothing better to do than complain. Spring Break is not the end of the world. It is 4-6 weeks when students come down here to have a week of fun in the sun.

Spring Break has been around since the 50’s. I’m almost 40 years old, and I can tell you that Spring Breakers today are certainly better behaved than I was when I came down here on Spring Break in the 80s. There is much stricter enforcement now of the beverage laws and the nudity ordinances than back then.

I remember totally nude contests at the place now known as Harpoon Harry’s. Spinnaker has given up contests all together, and LaVela’s contests are much tamer than they were years ago. And back when I went on Spring Break, a fake ID would get you into any bar on the beach. That is no longer the case.

Look at the positive aspects of Spring Break. I know dozens of people my age who came down here during Spring Break in the 80s and had a great time! Such a great time, in fact, that many of us who are now married and have teenage kids of our own, continue to come down here because we bonded with Panama City Beach during Spring Break 2 decades ago.

Keep in mind that today’s Spring Breaker is tomorrow’s family tourist who purchases condominiums, dines in the restaurants, plays golf, and charters boats.

To categorically reject Spring Break just because some girls flash their breasts or because some Spring Breakers overindulge in alcohol is not only counter productive to a community that depends on tourism, but it is hypocritical considering that ALL of us were young once and did some things we might not do now.

Spring Break business and summer family business is not incompatible. They both can co-exist because they take place during different times of the year! One does not interfere with the other, and both greatly benefit Panama City Beach and enable local government to collect necessary bed and sales taxes which finance community projects and services.

So take a deep breath, take a step back, and look at the situation objectively. Do you really want to live in a boring retirement community like Sarasota or Clearwater? If so, move. If not, I encourage you to be proud of and enjoy living in one of Florida’s most beautiful, exciting, and most vibrant communities…..a city which not selectively caters only to certain stereoptypes, but a city which actively seeks all genres of tourists, national AND international, young AND old, bar-hoppers AND golfers, spring breakers AND families, conventioneers AND snowbirds.


9 David March 24, 2008 at 10:41 pm

David here again…

I am 43 and you are wrong about how it was in the 80’s. Back then the Police came to our room (at the Chateau)and told us that if we were loud again we would be kicked out. We were quiet after that and actually respected authority and the Police. There was no nudity on the street or on the beach, that didn’t start until the Mardi Gras beads showed up several years ago. The T-shirt contests have always been racey but if that’s what you need to have fun, do a search on the internet or buy a magazine. “The Strip” was where you showed off your car, not what you did.

Take a look at Pier Park. Do you think that major investors like Simon are looking for families or kids to come to that development. Most of the kids here bring enough money to chip in on a room and buy beer that’s it. I have my rental properties rented to families during spring break for premium rates. I’m embarrased that I told them that things have changed here, it’s worse than ever. Many of the families we are getting are former patrons of Destin/Ft. Walton, they heard from others that Panama City has changed. Do you think they will come back again next year?

Read up a little… Ft. Lauderdale has had a 10 fold increase in revenue since shutting down spring break there.


10 Patrick March 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Hi Dave:

Up until just a couple of years ago I had a second home in South Florida and spend much time in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach.

I am very familiar with that area. So familiar in fact that I know that topless sunbathing is common up and down the beach, both in Ft Lauderdale and in South Beach. It’s no big deal there, its not prosecuted, and people don’t make a big issue out of this. So if you’re uncomfortable with the occasional flashing of breasts in Panama City Beach during Spring Break, you would probably be disgusted by what’s happening down south year round.

Many clubs and bars down there have 24 hour liquor licenses, meaning the party never stops. There are what they call “full-friction” adult clubs dotting the tourist sector, and there are headshops selling pipes, paraphernalia and xxx rated movies out of storefront windows.

Nevertheless, both Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale are beautiful places to live and visit. The climate, the fauna, the food, the culture, the people, the architecture are all interesting and draw tourists from all walks of life and every corner of the globe.

Right now, Miami Beach AND Ft. Lauderdale are the site of the WMC which stands for “Winter Music Conference”. It draws more young people, DJs, and party goers from around the world than our Spring Break here in Panama City ever has. Trust me, I have been to this event….and you can google it if you wish! They have noisy hip-hop and techno concerts right on the beach drawing 10’s of thousands of people….all night long into the early morning hours. What has it done to their tourism? It has increased it.

Also, did you know that both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are the favored party spots of America’s gay community? Not that that’s a problem with me, but you did point to Ft. Lauderdale apparently as a model community which has dealt with spring break on its own terms. Do you think that is compatible with family values?

What I have seen in South Florida is that young and old have have agreed to disagree, have learned to respect each other’s differences, and have found ways to co-exist……in harmony!


11 Chris Plyers March 25, 2008 at 6:00 am

Doesn’t a guy named Patrick own La Vela? Could this be the owner of own of the super clubs defending Spring Break? Who else would go to such great lengths to defend Spring Break and who in PCB owns a 2nd home in South Beach…..hmmm, I wonder?

Hard to be impartial when you pocket seven figures each year from Spring Break. If Patrick’s not the owner of La Vela (I apologize in advance), but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….it’s probably a duck!


12 RC March 25, 2008 at 6:16 am

There is no doubt the majority of PCB residents are against supporting the “MTV Spring Break” crowd. And I can assure you it is not good for the health of the community. Look at the property values of PCB versus any other community on the Panhandle. Look at the types of storefronts like “Condom”, only in PCB. All are paying so a few local clubs and cheap motels can profit.


13 Jason March 25, 2008 at 8:14 am

Let us remember, I am not talking about shutting down Panama City Beach for spring break. I’m talking about readjusting marketing efforts to appeal to a more family oriented visitor.

The argument has been that a family will spend more money here than a college student, we just have to let families know that this is a good place to come when they are on spring break vacation.

There will always be college kids comng here for spring break, we live in a beach town. However, to promote a crazy party atmosphere, I feel, is detrimental to our area.


14 Maureen March 25, 2008 at 8:16 am

My 7-year old grandson is a permanent resident of PCB. I don’t like the idea of him seeing kids acting out in public. Scantily clad girls is no big deal; locals go to the beach wearing the same thing. However, girls removing their tops to flash passers-by does upset me. He goes to school here, Walmart, McDonald’s, etc. He can’t hole up for 6 weeks until spring break is over. His parents, while no prudes, would rather he not be exposed to older kids helling profanities out car windows, showing their rears and/or fronts, vomiting in public, carrying massive amounts of beer across the street. Yes, PCB definitely needs to focus on family. Those who rent out for spring break should focus on renting only to families. Sooner or later, the kids will find someplace else to go, and the families will come and PCB will have the reputation it seeks.


15 John March 25, 2008 at 9:01 am

My only question is – since we seem to be attracting a sizeable spring break crowd, why are my tax dollars, and a sizeable part of the TDC budget, going to that instead of to promote more visitors and occupancy for the lower occupancy parts of the year, e.g. winter ?


16 Lori March 25, 2008 at 9:33 am

3 cheers for your exposing what we unfortunately already know…the fact that tolerance is not always the best answer. Could it be that it’s a buyer’s market in PCB partly due to potential buyers choosing to spend their condo and beachfront property elsewhere due to the Spring Break Zoo? I know that overbuilding is a huge factor. But, I count my blessings every day that we made the decision to buy on the quiet end of the beach. We chose to not expose our family renters to the noise and sheer animal-like behavior of what is represents America’s college youth. How sad.

If this city wants to rise above this 6-week “look the other way” Sodom and Gomorrah image, it’s leaders and authorities MUST set in place strict rules that won’t be ignored, just to be friendly with the money they bring to the beach. I can’t imagine owners of these properties WANTING to spend so much time and dollars on the cleanup left in the aftermath of short-term visits of kids gone crazy. By allowing them to rent their property, they are saying, “it’s okay, we’ve got insurance for that” or “that’s what we have housekeeping for”.

My renting families are fortunate that our resort globally refuses to rent to college kids during March and April, and we experience great success because of it. Families know that they can have a good time right here without exposing their children to naked, vomiting foul-mouthed degenerates. I won’t apologize for that description because I will not look the other way while these temporary visitors bring down our beautiful city.

We were in PCB a couple of weeks ago and although it was all quiet on the “western front”, there were plenty of kids on the main drag. We spent a lot of time checking out Pier Park, and the kids shopping and dining there were well-behaved. BUT! It was early and it was a different environment. Put them somewhere that says to them, “it’s okay now, go ahead. Take off your top, drink from this tube, and let your inhibitions go…” and they tranform into animals resembling humans, but all morals fly out the window. Just stop in a store and watch them drag out case after case of beer, and you know what their night is going to be like!

One last note. I’ve not said anything different here than the majority already has heard or felt. But nobody has mentioned that a girl was molested by a guard at the Sandpiper Beacon and thrown over the railing from the 6th floor balcony. Read here.
This man knew he’d have plenty of prey because of PCB’s reputation of having multitudes of college girls who spend a week looking for fun. This one, and I’m sure many others, got more than they bargain for. Thank God she is recovering, physically.

I think I’m done now, what else can I say? Is this the type of image we should be proud of? This is the stuff that will bring this city to it’s knees and no matter how much money it spends on malls or high rise condos, Spring Break tolerance can kill a town! City managers, please think outside the MTV box!


17 Grant March 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

Nice going attacking Patrick just because what he says is true. Give me a break, Chris – people can’t just make up things and then not like it when someone calls them out on it! Patrick’s points are valid, whether you like them or not.

I totally agree with Mary and Lori. I’m glad that some people can actually think beyond complaining and think about what needs to be done/question the status quo.


18 Shell March 25, 2008 at 11:31 am

Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are CITIES…
its a HUGE difference to compare cities to a small town like PCB…….


19 David March 25, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Grant- “People making things up”? Sorry if you weren’t talking about me but I am the only one Patrick named. This is the article, and I have seen others about Ft. Lauderdales efforts to change their image. Here is what MSNBC reported a few days ago about Ft. Lauderdale

Chris- Bad news. The “Quiet western front” is where the trouble has spilled into. I don’t know if the party places were all booked up, or the on line booking companies loaded us up. One thing is for sure, they are here too.

At the quietest Resort on the beach last Friday you could hear the echo accross the beach of one drunken guy screaming the F word as loud as he could for over an hour. I am please to say that when he stepped thru his open door and onto his balcony we counted up and got his room number. It was a pleasure to see him evicted. I know to some posters here, he was just having fun. I say we don’t need his money.


20 David March 25, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Grant- “People making things up”? Sorry if you weren’t talking about me but I am the only one Patrick named. MSNBC reported on the 17th of this month about Ft. Lauderdales efforts to get rid of Spring Break. It was called “Fla. town sends spring break abroad” Do a search on MSNBC’s site.

Chris- Bad news. The “Quiet western front” is where the trouble has spilled into. I don’t know if the party places were all booked up, or the on line booking companies loaded us up. One thing is for sure, they are here too.

At the quietest Resort on the beach last Friday you could hear the echo accross the beach of one drunken guy screaming the F word as loud as he could for over an hour. I am please to say that when he stepped thru his open door and onto his balcony we counted up and got his room number. It was a pleasure to see him evicted. I know to some posters here, he was just having fun. I say we don’t need his money.


21 Charles March 25, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Love reading all of the “opinions” that the complainers throw around, but none provide “facts and figures”. Go to Pier Park and ask the manager of Hofbrau Beer Garden, Ron Jons or Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville if these Crazzzy spring breakers are bad for business. Now, more importantly ask the employees (you know those people that support our local economy!) what they think about spring breakers.

Many of these complainers are retirees and don’t like spring break but spring break has been here for over 20 years, longer them and just because they own one or two houses/condos here doesn’t mean they know what is best for Panama City Beach. They know what is best for them and their investment. Not for the many original and new entrepreneurs in Panama City Beach. If you don’t like spring break, move to Tampa!

Now with all of this ranting, I do agree that some of the image of spring break needs to be improved! Don’t run them off, simply let them know that we aren’t for the cheap redneck town anymore. How do we do that? Don’t work with MTV, that’s for sure! There are many other companies that Panama City Beach can work with that can provide a positive image. Case in point, National Guard hosted 3 Doors Down concert and what about the Kevin Chesney concert, the positive image of that concert will be seen for many years, won’t it! Do you think Kevin would have been here without the spring breakers here? Maybe… but in the end, Kevin stated the following, “It was the best show we’ve ever done!” (check his website under the news archive!).

As for the very sad situation with that security guard… it could have happened during the summer, fall, at anytime! And it doesn’t have anything to do with spring breaks other then the fact that the young girl was a spring breaker. My preyers are out for the young girl and her family. Again, it is a very sad situation. Enough said on it.

To close, I challenge the complainers and anti-spring break people to prove where are all of these, “family” spring breakers going to be coming from? Why would they come here during March’s, 25 mph winds and 39 degrees weather, when they could go further south with warmer more enjoyable and predicable weather?


22 Lori March 25, 2008 at 11:40 pm

My whole point is that I would like to see Panama City Beach be recognized as a great vacation place. One that offers more than clubs and beer guzzeling teens. I would like to just once pick up a travel mag and read that PCB is know for it’s great beaches, weather, venues and resorts, instead of the line, “know for it being the college spring break capitol of the world.” And yes, if you own property here, it doesn’t mean you’re some old coot with only your own best interest in mind. I’ve thrown enough business into PCB to want the best for this city. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be writing about it here.

With enough venues for everyone, PCB will change for the better. Also in this paragraph…

“To close, I challenge the complainers and anti-spring break people to prove where are all of these, “family” spring breakers going to be coming from? Why would they come here during March’s, 25 mph winds and 39 degrees weather, when they could go further south with warmer more enjoyable and predicable weather?”

Schools let their elementary age kids out when it’s best for the school, usually around Easter. So young families get spring vacation too, not just college kids. Why should they have to travel further south on limited days off, to avoid the party animals? If March is when their spring vacation is, it’s not their fault. They should be able to come here just like anyone else. Their money is just as green as the next guy. We just had a family from Atlanta, and others from the midwest. And the weather was perfect for them. A windy March day in PCB beats the heck out of 20 deg. freezing rain, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

One last thing about the guard attack. I would bet any amount of money that this predator planned to work there because he KNEW he would have his pick of victims. Yes, he could have done it anywhere, but somehow, he knew he could get in without being checked. Shame on SB resort! Notice they still have not commented or apologized.


23 Shell March 26, 2008 at 8:31 am


I’m not a retiree I’m 29 and I think these kids are obnoxious……and are bringing PCB down….ESPECIALLY when PCB is spending money on beautifying the place.
and to all of you who say “all anyone does is complain and no one can give any ideas to improve PCB”
Well, regardless what WE say it’s ultimately up to the TDC/CVB…..


24 Bryan Durta March 26, 2008 at 10:54 am


I do not think that there is any disagreement from the anti-spring break people that March revenue will be down for many businesses if we didn’t try so hard to attract spring breakers. However, can you admit that March revenue would be up for other businesses that do not cater to the college spring break crowd? Can you agree that there are families and couples that choose to go to other destinations during March due to the college students being here? And can you admit that it is possible that the march spring break revenue has a negative impact on the rest of the year?

Luckily the TDC/CVB is considering doing some research to try to determine what the year-round effects of college spring break are.


25 Bryan Durta March 26, 2008 at 11:05 am


I believe there are more than one participant in this thread with major college spring break business interests who are not making much of an effort to disclose who they are.

It would be helpful if everyone would be open and disclose who they are rather than hiding behind a first name.


26 Bryan Durta March 26, 2008 at 11:29 am


Here is the site of another person who making a difference that you might not be aware of:

The site is run by Kirk Lancaster who is a member of the TDC/CVB Marketing Committee.


27 Grant March 26, 2008 at 11:39 am

David – No I was not talking about you. In fact I like the fact that you actually do something about the things you see vs. most people in this town who look the other way and then complain!


28 Mary March 26, 2008 at 11:48 am

Thanks, Bryan! I didn’t know about this site – I’ll definitely pass this along to others, too.


29 Bryan Durta March 26, 2008 at 1:33 pm


In response to your comment about tame LaVela contests, maybe you should do a search and take a look at the videos and pictures of the wet-t contests that have been posted by lavela customers this spring break.

These contests are not tame, clearly include nudity, and seem to clearly violate the Bay County Ordinances covering nudity at businesses.

Even more shocking is that LaVela’s web site states that their minimum age is only 15 on the pool deck.


30 Patrick March 26, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Bryan: What I said is that the contests are tamer than they were years ago, and certainly tamer than the ones held in the 80s at the place now known as Harpoon Harries, which were totally 100% nude. Were you here in the 80s to see what was happening on this beach? Do you remember the beer chugging contests and promiscuous banana eating contests which took place back then?

I would also like to point out that even Ft. Lauderdale which keeps getting praised as a community which ridded itself of Spring Break, still has racy wet t-shirt contests (google “Lulu’s baitshack Ft. Lauderdale”), still has superclubs (google “voodoo lounge ft. lauderdale”) and prides itself as being America’s #1 destination for gays and lesbians to which it not only caters, but to which it actively markets itself (google “greater ft. lauderdale rainbow”). In fact, Ft. Lauderdale proudly claims to have 950,000 gay and lesbian tourists who pump a whopping $1.2 Billion into the local economy there. I personally have no problem with gays and lesbians, but such marketing efforts on behalf of the city of Ft. Lauderdale certainly don’t jive with some people’s perception on this board that Ft. Lauderdale is family friendly.

Nevertheless, as David correctly pointed out, Ft. Lauderdale has managed to vastly increase its tourism base…..despite the topless sun bathing, despite the superclubs which thrive and remain open, despite the wet t-shirt contests, and despite the aggressive marketing efforts to gays and lesbians.

However, I doubt that the tourist base consists primarily of families, since I don’t know too many families who can afford the $600 per night hotel rooms quoted in David’s MSNBC article.

And to answer David’s question whether Simon Properties (Pier Park) would prefer money from families OR money from kids, let me put it this way: It’s not an EITHER/OR proposition. As Charles correctly pointed out above, any smart businessman will gladly take the money from both, families AND kids. Kids during spring break, and families in the summer. Which leads me back to my original proposition that Spring Break and Family Summer Business can and should co-exist in harmony.

If Panama City Beach’s image is as bad as some people on this board would have you believe, than why do we keep seeing beautiful new developments including upscale new condos and the new Pier Park which by any measure has been a vast success?

While there will always be controversy about Spring Break and disagreement on how best to deal with it, one things is for sure and undeniable: It always has and continues to generate revenues for most businesses on the beach including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, bars & clubs, grocery stores, retail shops, amusement businesses such as minigolf, bungee, maze, movie theaters, beach services, fast food chains, etc.

Spring Break has been here for many years, but it has grown up. Todays kids don’t come down here broke, on a bus, looking to stay at a $39 hotel. Todays kids drive fancy cars, cary mom and dad’s credit cards, and spend money on alot more things than cheap beer.

A few bad apples are not representative of the majority of Spring Breakers, and should not cause a community to turn its back on certain business. Lets not forget that Spring Break is only for a 4-6 week period, the rest of the year its primarily families and other adults. In my opinion, this is manageable.


31 Bryan Durta March 26, 2008 at 11:46 pm


Thank you for your response. I apologize that I inadvertently mis-characterized you as describing the LaVela contests as “tame”. And, to answer your question, I was not here back in the 80s when PCB was a regional spring break destination primarily drawing students from our traditional drive markets.

However, I am not sure what relevance your assertion that these contests are “tamer that they were years ago” is. Do you believe that it is OK for a business to break the law just because it is breaking it to a lesser extent than it or some other business used to?

It is my understanding that Club LaVela is a bar/club, and not regulated as a sexually oriented business. Therefore it is not supposed to be featuring nudity. It is also my understand that Club LaVela features nudity facilitated by the management at its wet-t contests. Do you disagree?

And finally, can you confirm or deny the information on the Club LaVela web site that states “During the day to hand out on the pool and watch contests etc you have to be over 15”? For those who might not be aware, the pool is where the wet-t contest that I believe is an illegal activity takes place.

I’m going to just ignore your comments about gay and lesbian travel since I do not think it has anything to do with a discussion of whether promoting college spring break is in the best interest of our community.

Thank you in advance for your reply and for your input in this important discussion.


32 Christina Durta March 27, 2008 at 9:16 am

This thread, along with all the other Spring Break discussions, clearly shows that there is a major disagreement about what type of image this town should have, what kind of visitors should we attract, and, what type of activities our visitors desire. It needs to be addressed because no matter what side of the table you are on, everybody feels their interests are being hurt by the the opposite side.

There are those who want PCB to have a vibrant party image. They want to attract visitors who are here to have a good time. Most of the people who want to pursue this image are club/bar owners, owners of the older motels, owners of beach stores, or other party-goers looking for more people to share a good time with. Many of these people have lived in PCB for a long time or are young.

Then there are those prefer our visitors to be calm and just enjoy the beach for its natural attractions, shopping, and dining. Many of these people are residents, owners of upscale rental condos, owners of higher end shops and restaurants. Many of these people are not long time PCB residents and are not young.

The differing views are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum and are conflicting. It really isn’t possible for the two to coexist. The party-goers are bothered by the calm people, and the calm people are bothered by the party-goers. Therein lies the problem.

The calm people, sometimes referred to as “complainers”, get upset because the party-goers do not make sure their good time is quiet and confined to their group. Rather, they impose their “fun” on everybody around them. This is what makes the “complainers” so mad. How is someone supposed to enjoy a calm, peaceful day when party goers are playing loud music, screaming, and running around being wild? Now the party-goers “fun” is ruining the calm persons quiet day at the beach, or running errands, or wherever the calm person is involuntarily exposed to the party behavior.

So, eventually the calm person finally can’t take anymore, gets mad, and complains. Now the party-goers day is wrecked because they can’t have as much fun as they want to. The party-goer wants to have a good time and they can’t because the calm person is a drag.

Now, everybody is ticked off because nobody is getting what they wanted. This is why the two can’t exist. People can’t party around people who want quiet, and people can’t have peace around people who want to party. It’s that simple.

As a community, we need to pick an image and go forward with that goal.


33 Patrick March 27, 2008 at 11:20 am

Hi Bryan: It would be hypocritical for me to take a position on wet t-shirt contests since i used to enjoy watching them myself. However, T-shirts – dry or wet, skimpy bikinis, t-backs, thongs, and similar attire, while not always in good taste, are not illegal on this beach, and there is nothing in the law that requires businesses to be regulated as adult, simply because some of their patrons wear this kind of attire while moving their body to music in provoative ways.

I do agree with Christina that the two opposing factions on the Spring Break issue are unlikely to agree on many things, but I also believe that residents who chose to live in the tourist sector knew about the crowds, the noise, and the offensive behavior which Spring Break may bring to this beach for one month each year. It’s a small sacrifice to make considering that the rest of the year the beach is visited primarily by families and other mature and more quiet visitors.

One last thought. Even though Panama City Beach is in fact known as the Spring Break capitol, the family summer business and winter business has in fact grown every single year which is evidenced by bed tax and sales tax collections which are undeniably up. So the argument that families are turning away to go somewhere else in the summer because Panama City caters to Spring Breakers in March is at least in partially flawed.

I wish everybody on this board a pleasant day.


34 Bryan Durta March 27, 2008 at 11:56 am


Since I am not an attorney, maybe I am just confused about how to interpret the Bay County Ordinances.

Sec. 3.5-80.2 Prohibitited conduct on premises of commercial establishments STATES:

(e) It shall be unlawful, while in a public place on the premises of a commercial establishment for any person to knowingly or intentionally appear nude.
(1) “Nude” means the showing of any portion of the male or female genitals, pubic area, vulva, or anus with less than a fully opaque and obvious covering, the showing of any portion of the female breast with less than a fully opaque and obvious covering of the entire nipple and areola, or the showing of the covered male genitals in a discerningly turgid state. A simulation of the body part required to be covered, or that which creates the illusion of nudity, shall not qualify as a fully opaque covering.

I welcome any imput from you or anyone else who can help me understand why a flimsy see-through wet-t does not violate this ordinance that requires a “fully opaque covering”. Thank you.


35 Christina Durta March 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm


Thank you for your comments.

Unless one has actually attended Spring Break before purchasing property in PCB, they may not be fully aware of what goes on. PCB may be known as the “Spring Break Capitol” amongst people in the southern region; however, I can assure you that vast majority of people up north and other parts of the country have probably never even heard of PCB. I never heard of it until I started travelling in the area. Heck, I still can’t get my own family members to understand that PCB isn’t close to Orlando. It just isn’t as well known as people here seem to think it is.

I don’t believe in the “this is the way it has always been, so deal with it” type of attitude. How does anything change for the better with that kind of thinking? Maybe some new thought processes is exactly what this town needs to get out of its old ruts. Maybe some input from people who are from other parts of the country will stop group think patterns.

Speaking for myself, I just believe that PCB has the potential to be as nice as, or better than, Destin/Walton County. We have far much more to offer and much more land to do it. We can appeal to a wider audience. However, I don’t think this can happen if we continue to do things the same as they have always been done. If that would have worked, there wouldn’t be such a major difference between us and our neighbors to the west. I don’t think anyone can deny that there is something terribly wrong when we have broken down, empty builidings all over the place, but they don’t.

If private businesses want to continue Spring Break, that is their right. However, I just don’t think the government should be involved.


36 Charles March 27, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Greetings Everyone,

Let me first respond with some facts:

1. Spring Break has been in Panama City Beach for over 15 years.
2. Our tourist has increased year over year, with old hotels and now with new condos.
3. The old TDC of two years ago was VERY Pro-spring break for many years, yet, PCB still grew.
4. PCB weather in March is completely unpredictable… look at the history of March’s weather.
5. Spring break is only 4-6 weeks of the year, our main season, which continues to grow, is four months.
6. The article about Ft. Lauderdale did NOT take inflation, normal state growth, increase in retirees, etc. into account. IT IS A FLAWED 20 YEAR OLD COMPARISON, PERIOD.
7. Spring break and summer CAN live together… it has for the past 15 years.
8. Our past winter guest has decreased, why… not because of spring break. Resulting from the state of economy of Canada, which only this past year has been at it’s best in thirty years, so by default winter 08′-09′ should be great! Again, this has very little to nothing to do with spring break.
9. WILL continue to promote spring break until someone can provide a proven business model to allows our community to thrive during March. Again, where are these family spring breakers in the SAME quantity going to be coming from?
10. There are PERSONAL agendas within the new TDC to rid spring break and get back at the old TDC members and a select few within our community.

Now to answer Bryan Durta, which I highly respect, comments… Yes, more family spring break could/might come here during March is we remove spring break. But will it be on the same magnitude that we currently enjoy, I don’t think so. One of my facts is backed by Destin, Sandestin, and 30A do NOT advertise for spring breakers, yet they get college spring breakers and guess what… their family spring breaks aren’t near our current spring break… this is a fact. So where is PCB going to get them from? Now with that said, answers questions continually from families asking about spring break, we clearly point out to them that spring break is pretty much confined to Joan Ave/Thomas Dr going east to Clara Ave and Front Beach Rd. as the main Party Area. We list them the hotels/condos that cater to the college spring breakers and then let them know that PCB is 17 mile long and there are many quiet places for them to enjoy, the complete east end of Thomas Dr and the West end past 79, minus Sandpiper. So problem solved, with families and spring breakers coexisting, they have been and will continue to coexists.

About the traffic, all of us have seen the crazy traffic of June/July. It is just as heavy and almost as crazy. True, no flashing but general traffic congestion is there and will be even worse as many of these new condos are now complete and will be adding even more cars to the summer problem. Any solution proposed for summer congestion applies to spring break. On the flashing issues… well, I have seen Beach/Bay police pull them over and issue tickets… it not like to police stands there idle with a smile on their face. And even with a police force of a thousand, you will never catch everyone, unless we go backward to German gestapo methods.

Where does this leave us… Spring break should continue to be promoted but with a positive image, look at it doesn’t have any reference to flashing, drinking, nudity, etc. It promotes spring break in a positive manner. Spring break does NOT provide the negative image to our summer visitors, if so why have we continued to grow? removes the main side spring break banner and pushes the reference from the front page to the very bottom, once spring break is over. A family never sees it, unless they are looking for it. The TDC pays Y Partnership PR over $15,000 per month… YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY, OVER FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS PER MONTH (It is really closer to $20,000) for them to control this image, so it is their responsibility to do their job! The TDC doesn’t mention spring break on or any of its summer, fall, winter and even spring marketing! They create a separate website and selectively marketed through MTV and MTVU… when was the last time a forty-year old with a family went to or!!! Cancun advertises for spring break, yet it is still one of the hottest vacation spots for families, how do they do it and why can’t we? We can and should!

Spring break is here, and I hope here to stay, until we get casinos or a major attraction. But that it a whole other debate!

Looking forward to the replies,


37 Charles March 27, 2008 at 2:04 pm


It has nothing to do with, “this is the way it has always been, so deal with it”. It has to do with the $30+ million dollars that spring break inputs into our local economy, period. Replace that thirty million with another market and I’m all for it! But until then, we can afford to don’t get rid of this proven economic input.

On, “If private businesses want to continue Spring Break, that is their right. However, I just don’t think the government should be involved.” Ok, let apply that logic… I don’t like the snow birds, they are cheap, don’t spend money and look for the lowest cost of everything available! The government shouldn’t market to them. I bet you disagree with that statement! So your logic does not apply to spring break or for that matter, families, tourist or anyone, some one can complain about… the TDC should then close.

Which do you think private businesses are going to support more, snow birds or spring break? I can personally tell you that Wal-Mart if had a choice of one or the other, spring break is what they would choose. Wal-Mart employees how many people on the beach? I personally know a stocker there that has been working over-time resulting from spring break, but during the winter everyone is cut-back to the minimum. Our Wal-Mart is one of the most profitable in all of the Wal-Marts in the nation. Over $500,000 of beer a week and what kind of economic input does that have on a local beer distributors and their employees, what about the mechanic that works on the trucks and gas stations that supply the gas, the refrigeration repair/maintenance person! Again, it has nothing to do with image, marketing, etc… it has to do with economic value!

And reference what started this entire thread, “this must be the vomit and poop week.”, that is what a deposit is for. I have a good friend that run Merrimac Rentals and she has told me of even families wrecking places. So again, that is what a deposit is for. Yes, spring breakers does more damage then families, I completely agree with that! But for this time of year, could we attract the same level of economic input that spring breakers provide? If we could, then tell me why doesn’t Destin, Sandestin, and 30-A market to these families?



38 patrick March 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Hi Charles: Well put!

Hi Bryan: As far as the ordinance is concerned, please note that it is a county ordinance. It is my understanding that county ordinances are superseded by city ordinances just as state ordinances are superseded by county ordinances. I know this sounds strange, but that’s the way it is. You would have to look at the city code to see what applies. Im certain that nudity such as full exposure of breasts or genitals is illegal, regardless. And it should be.

I can tell you, however, that in a beach community like panama city beach, an ordinance like bay county’s, while probably constitutional, is likely uneneforceable and would drain the police department of resources since it would have to be enforced uniformly up and down this beach, on condo/hotel pooldecks, on the streets and in private businesses including gyms. What would you do? put all those scantily clad ladies in jail? write them a ticket? what if they don’t have ID? Bikini policing has been tried before on this beach and failed miserably because its at least in part subjective in nature.

The ordinance, as written, makes it illegal to show “any portion of the female breast” – this would make virtually all two-piece bathing suits illegal and would bring us back to the one-piece bathing suits of the 50s.

Hi Christina: I agree with you that old thinking is not always the best thinking and that we need to keep an open dialogue on the issue, where the free exchange of ideas allows all of us to express our diverse points of view. There probably isn’t an absolute wrong or right on the Spring Break issue, and I am certain that everybody on this board is sincere and only has the best in mind for our beautiful community.

Think tanks like this board are crucial and serve a great purpose to put fresh new ideas and alternatives on the table for people to consider, while at the same time reminding people of Panama City’s tourism history and tradition.


39 Charles March 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

From the news herald on the fact that Hulk Hogan was here recording his reality show with his daughter… Here is one of the comments within the article:

“It’s just the most exciting thing we’ve done this week,” said Sharon Broussard, an Indiana mom who brought her family to Panama City Beach for Spring Break.

What!!! Can it be!!! A FAMILY having a good time during Spring Break!!! So it isn’t so… it can’t be true! According to all of the complainers, FAMILIES aren’t allow to have a good time with all of those crazy college kids around, for that matter they should be insulted by the very fact that Hulk Hogan was here having a good time with his FAMILY!

Ok, I will quit being sarcastic… 😉 But I do love the irony to all of it.

Enjoy your spring break while you can, only one week left!



40 Bryan Durta March 27, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Hi Patrick,
The Bay County Ordinance we are discussing also includes:

“Sec. 3.5-80.5. Area of application.
All territory within the legal boundaries of the county, including all incorporated and unincorporated areas, shall be embraced by the provisions of this subdivision.
(Ord. No. 00-07, § 5, 3-14-00)”

I am not an attorney, but it sounds like it was intended to take precedent over any ordinance Panama City Beach might have, just like a state ordinance would generally supersede a county ordinance.

But I agree with you that there could very well be enforcement issues and maybe even constitutional concerns. Maybe I’m silly, but I just wish that everyone would make more of an effort to try to comply our laws rather than trying to find ways around them.

And to Charles,
Thank you for the kind words. I might not agree with you about everything(although I believe we do agree quite a bit), but I do always like to hear your input and concerns. At least here you are not officially limited to 3 minutes.

Regardless of our differences of opinion, we are all showing that an intelligent discussion of this subject can take place. Thanks Jason for making it possible.


41 Patrick March 27, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Hi Bryan:

Florida’s constitutional framework allows for state statutes to be superseded by county ordinances, and county ordinances to be superseded by city ordinances. The section of the county ordinance you cite above would be effective only if there was no city ordinance addressing the same issue. If there is a city ordinance conflicting with the county ordinance, the city ordinance effectively supersedes the county ordinance.

This is different from our national constitutional framework which contains what is called a “supremacy clause” (Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution) which displaces all state laws which are in conflict with federal law (statutes and treaties). Sorry if these sounds confusing…it kind of is 🙂

I agree with you though that laws should be complied with, and that people should use common sense and respect each others rights.

I second your “thank you” to Jason for making this forum possible, and I also thank you and all the people on this board who have participated in this dialogue.

Kindest Regards,



42 Jason March 27, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Charles, all very good points. I really appreciate your comments.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this disucussion.

-jason, complainer. 🙂


43 Chris Plyers March 28, 2008 at 4:30 am

Seems like the pro-Spring Break side wants to use economic impact as the primary basis for their agrument. Ok, we’ll take as fact that SB pumps $20-$30 million into the PCB economy. This comes from the estimated 250,000 students (another fact they refer to). This means each student spends an average of $100 each.

250,000 students x $100 = $25,000,000

To replace that income with a more Family Friendly SB would mean attracting 25,000 families who spend an average of $1,000 each. It’s probably more $$ per family, but we’ll be conversative for this forum.

25,000 families x $1,000 = $25,000,000

This would mean attracting 4,000-5,000 additional families per week. If the TDC and Y Marketing can’t pull that off, we’ve got a much more serious problem than drunk spring breakers. At an avg of 3 persons per family, thats a total of 75,000 people (30% of the SB crowd) and this would require 1/10 the police, fire, emergency, city workers and the use/abuse of our roads, sewers and power grid. I’m sure all beach locals have noticed the power surges, boil water notices and sewer line breaks throughout this SB. Coincidence or are these 250,000 SB’ers overtaxing our infastructure?

Granted, family-friendly SB would cut into Wal-mart’s beer sales but I can assure you that the parking lot at Wal-mart (on the beach) would still be full… as it is every day of the year. Just ask any local. 4-6 weeks don’t make Wal-mart the most profitable store in the chain.

Jason, thanks for this forum. Unfortunately, I have no delusions that any of this converstion will have an impact on the TDC, city or county commisioners. Why, because each already has their own agenda either pro (the majority) or con and most of them are either related, high school buddies and/or business partners. Good ol boy politics at its best!


44 John March 28, 2008 at 6:34 am

My experience with the Snowbirds this year has been great. They fill our rooms when the other tourists won’t. They pay much less rent, but then there is the law of supply and demand, and with winter occupancy levels, they are paying the going rate.
Did you know that many of them leave earlier than they would like because thier landlords won’t rent to them so they can rent to the spring break crowd?
To me the risk does not make sense. Trade a well behaved tenant who cleans and fixes things up and comes back every year for rowdy drunks who puke on the bed, use your furniture for beer pong and hopes you can’t find them for damages. Will the damage and hassle make up for the extra rent?
Snowbirds are cheap? Dunno – they go to many events, some participate in local groups, and not just Noah’s Ark, they love to eat out, and yes, they even drink, but not to excess (usually, and even then they get a designated driver because they know better). I bet they spend more than $100 per like the Spring Breakeers do. I won’t even discuss what a Snowbird Wet T-Shirt contest might ….arrgh !!! ….never mind !!! 😉
Snowbirds have to pay about $1500 up front for a special medical plan just to get here because of thier health care system that requires insurance when they are out of the country. If we could help them find a group medical plan that saved money for them when they come here, the word would get out quickly and we would increase the winter season occupancy, maybe even extend it a couple of weeks….and they would have more to spend than a Spring Breaker ….year after year…without the hangover of a Spring Breaker. How do you finance that? See my next post.


45 John March 28, 2008 at 6:53 am

The show “COPS” Panama City Beach episodes cited a 1000 to 1 ratio of police to Spring Breaker. Ask any cop and you will find that they are on duty for about two months straight during Spring Break….and not just because they are also doing private security details in between shifts.
Clearly additional support is needed during this time; this is a load that impacts the services available to the residents. Other areas deal with this by means of “impact fees” and special taxes.
A simple 10 cent per beer, plus a $1 per bed per night fee levied in March and April might go a long way toward financing additional security for a shorter, tamer Spring Break…and could also help put that group health care plan in place for the Snowbirds. (which, by the way is not needed for US citizens,…if we get smart and market to them).
Argue about all sorts of aspects of this if you want, but the bottom line is clear – additional police enforcement is needed during spring break and it should be financed by spring break. We also can do without some of spring break if we increase winter occupancy.


46 Charles March 28, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Hi Chris,

The numbers of, “SB pumps $20-$30 million into the PCB economy.”, was a VERY low estimate to keep the complainer from calling me a lair, originally the number was $60 million and then some accountants re-estimated it to be around $40-45 million. The estimated 250,000 students, again a simple estimate and does vary year to year. Now on to your math… “each student spends an average of $100 each. 250,000 students x $100 = $25,000,000” Yes, based on the lowest estimate of economic input. But we KNOW for a fact that a hotel/condo rents for a minimum of (again lowest numbers here) $30 per person per night with a minimum of four people minimum five nights or $30x4x5=$600 but let do a true direct comparison to your numbers, $30*1*5=$150. Ok, so the student is spending a minimum of $150 just on accommodations. Mind you, this is the cheapest rates you will find, The Summit, Holiday Inn, Days Inn, By The Sea Resorts, Chateau, Bikini Beach, Beach Tower, etc charges around $40-$60 per night. Moving forward, the SB has $150 into PCB so far, he needs to purchase beer, food, club entry, gas, tanning lotions, tshirts and misc., conservative estimate would be an additional $200 (La Vela $20 entry, Other clubs $30, beer/drinks $50 (bar & wal-mart), one nice meal $25, fast food $25, gas $30 (just while they are here, not a full tank), souvenir $10, misc $20 (gum, tanning lotion, lip balm, flip-flops) or a complete total of $350 for a single spring breaker or $350×250,000=$87,500,000. So Chris, how is this math looking now, again, my estimate was ultra conservative at best, if not a laughable joke! Now where, exactly where are you going to get those families to replace this, $87.5 million dollars?!! Again this is very conservative at best because I personally know and met many SB’ers that spent around $500-700 each!

As for your family spring break estimates, then why isn’t Destin, 30A, Sandestin marketing for this, oh so valuable, market? And being that PCB is 17 miles long, why can a family stay at the East end of thomas dr or west end of PCB and enjoy themselves? Not a single Anti-Spring Break person has explained either one of these facts!?

So please retort with facts and figures and provide a proven business model and will start working on it. But until them SB needs and should be promoted.

On the Snow Birds, yep cheap… go to any “Free Coffee and Donuts” and you will see tons for them, put a price on the coffee and donuts… you can listen to the crickets. I work with people in PCB that deal with snow birds because they have to too stay in business and agree that they are CHEAPPPPP. With the cost of gas, I am worried that we might not see that many for winter as the ones that come here drive. Did you know that many go down to mexico, resulting from the fact that they can get a round-trip flight for $300 or cheaper then driving here, guaranteed warm weather and same or lower overall cost! Crazy, I agree but facts none the less.



47 Charles March 28, 2008 at 2:19 pm


Reiterating everyone else, as I completely agree… Thanks for hosting this.

When are we going to get together for lunch anyway!? Call me…

Thank again,


48 Patrick March 28, 2008 at 2:52 pm

All valid points, Charles.

Spring Break has a major positive economic impact during a time when other resort towns struggle to attract visitors.

I did some research and found that condos in Destin are pretty empty in March and there are very few families renting that time of the year.

In fact the majority of people renting in Destin in March appear to be Spring Breakers who couldn’t get a room in Panama City Beach! Yet what’s good for Panama City Beach is the fact that even though those Spring Breakers are staying in Destin, they come to Panama City Beach to spend their money because they want to be part of the Spring Break action and not be sheltered away in Destin during the height of Spring Break.

If Destin can’t attract families in March, how could Panama City Beach? $60-$80 million dolars in March business is nothing to laugh at. Alot of people who own condos on Panama City Beach rely on the rental income Spring Breakers bring in order to pay their mortgage, association fees, and property taxes. Killing Spring Break may cause a sizeable number of these people to loose their condos to foreclosure.

Just additional food for thought!




49 Shell March 28, 2008 at 3:04 pm

um, PCB Spring Break capital for 15 yrs…
Where exactly has it gotten us??
A bad rep….
I’m sorry, are all these new developments up because of the “millions” we get from CSB????
Come on people….


50 Shell March 28, 2008 at 3:06 pm

um, PCB Spring Break capital for 15 yrs…
Where exactly has it gotten us??
A bad rep….
I’m sorry, are all these new developments up because of the “millions” we get from CSB????
Come on people….
BTW Patrick, I dont know where you are getting your info from but Destin has more income coming in YEAR ROUND than PCB ever does ……


51 Patrick March 28, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Hi Shell: No offense, but if you really think that Panama City Beach has not advanced and that our reputation is so bad, why are you here?

There are plenty of communities like Sarasota or Clearwater where you may feel much more comfortable. For the rest of us, who have lived here all or most of there lives, and who have seen Panama City Beach develop from a dot on the map with 3,000 year round residents, unpaved roads, and little amenities – into the sprawling, vibrant, and dynamic beach destination it is today, your observation is invalid.

Nevertheless, beauty and reputation are in the eye of the beholder and everybody is entitled to their opinion. But facts are undeniable….and the fact that sales taxes and bed taxes have only grown, not just in March but year-round, is an undisputable indicator that Panama City tourism is alive and well and that the TDC is on the right track.




52 Christina Durta March 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm

First, all positive economic impacts of Spring Break are uneducated guesses at best. There has been no real study on the financial aspect of Spring Break and the data to support any figures is not currently available. So, unless someone can show an honest calculation with supporting data, it is impossible to attach any numbers or come to any educated hypothesis.

Second, looking at soley at the revenue generated by Spring Break to make a decision does not consider all variables. For instance, what is the cost to property values due to a negative image? If I had to guess, it would probably be significantly more than any revenue generated by one month’s visitors. How much more is Destin property worth than PCB’s? There are many other economic factors that can’t be ignored in coming to a conclusion of the actual impact of Spring Break.

Third, much of the revenue is collected by a small group, some of which take their profits outside of Bay County. Maybe this group has increased revenue during the Spring Break time period, but what impact does this source of revenue have on other businesses and individuals on a annual basis?

It is short sighted to look at one month’s revenue, which has not been calculated in any credible manner, and ignore all the other economic impacts. What some gain in one month may be less than the whole community loses year round.

You’re not looking at the big picture.


53 Patrick March 28, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Hi Christina: The total economic impact of Spring Break may be a guess, but its not and uneducated guess as you put it. Bed Tax and Sales Tax figures are readily available, and they are huge for March and early April, but negligibly small in starting in mid April and all of May when Spring Break is over.

Again, the two competing factions on the Spring Break issue will probably never agree. Nevertheless, both sides surely have good points, want what’s best for the community, and are sincere in their opinions.

But facts are facts. Mexico Beach is right down the road. No Spring Breakers there! Not much family summer business to speak of either!


54 Christina Durta March 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Patrick: Bed tax and sales tax aggregate numbers do not reflect only Spring Break collections. In March, there are still snow birds here and other non-Spring Break vacationers. Last year, my husband and I, spent a great deal of time trying to come up with reasonable calculations. We were very frustrated with the lack of information available. I don’t know if you read our report, but you can see it at

It was our opinion that in order to isolate the actual bed tax collections attributable to Spring Break, the bed tax numbers need to be broken down by units that accept Spring Breakers and units that do not accept Spring Breakers. That would give a better picture because some of the visitors in March are not due to College Spring Break.

We have no disagreement that Spring Break brings in a large volume of revenue. You can see from our calculations that we do not deny that it is significant. However, we just think that people are looking at things in a vacuum. It’s the difference between microeconomics vs. macroeconomics. Again, you have to look at the total impact to the entire community. Increased revenue to some businesses and indivduals is just one variable, albeit major. There are many other variables just as financially significant that are being overlooked.

Contrary to what some might think, my husband Bryan and I have spent alot of time trying to analyze this from an objective standpoint. Before writing our report, we met with Bob Warren and Jim Lawson for several hours and spent a great deal of time going over alot of the TDC’s information. We spent alot of time writing our report. Bryan still goes to every TDC meeting.

We have absolutely no connection to any business in PCB. We do not rent out property. We have no source of income which is dependent on tourism. Can everybody who is posting here say that? Are some of the opinions being shared here based on personal or family financial gain? No offense, but it is really hard to be objective if that is the case.


55 Steve March 28, 2008 at 5:05 pm

1. During the last 20 years that PCB has been a major Spring Break destination, the local economy has exploded. Look at the number of new resorts and businesses that have been established… especiially recently. Pier Park? Town of Seahaven? Grand Panama? The new Airport? I’m not saying it’s because of Spring Break, but all of these companies and organizations invested here because they saw the growth we’ve had over the last 2 decades and see potential for more growth, despite PCB being known as a Spring BReak hotspot.

Additionally, PCB has increased the amount of YEARLY visitors dramatically over the last 20 years, even if you exclude the Spring Break numbers.

Could the local economy have done better if we weren’t known for Spring Break? Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe SB did have a positive effect on us. Impossible to say for sure, but when the local economy grows at a faster pace than the national economy, it looks to me like our leaders have been doing something right… and that includes Spring Break.

2. I don’t know where you guys were this month, but I spent every day of March eating at local restaurants and shopping in local businesses and I can say that I’ve seen plenty of families in the crowd. And yes, most of them were obviously visiting. Doesn’t look to me like Spring Break scares away all families as many people have suggested. I also still see plenty of snowbirds and families going in and out of the hotels during March.

I think the big picture is that the lure of our area is much, MUCH bigger than Spring Break, or any (percieved) negatives that may acompany our reputation for Spring Break. I predict our local economy will continue to outpace the growth of the national econmomy, regardless of Spring Break. I think we will have more businesses and initiatives like Pier Park open during the next 10-20 years, despite Spring Break. I think our visitor base will continue to grow over the next two decades even if we continue to be known as a Spring Break hotspot. And I think these new businesses and visitors will either love Spring BReak or tolerate Spring Break, but they will have to co-exist with Spring Break during the month of March.

P.S. Surely you nay-sayers give credit to visitors to be intelligent enough to know that Spring Break is during March and not year round. I really think that saying our reputation for Spring Break affects our yearly visitors is an empty argument. 99% of the people I’ve met in my life are smart enough to know that Spring Break doesn’t happen in June and July.

P.S.S. Open your eyes… PCB is as beautiful as it’s ever been (as long as you don’t mind all the new condos)… we’re receiving more visitors and revenue than we ever have before… why change a co-existence that IS WORKING????

P.S.S.S. I think most of the objection to Spring Break is based on morals (including poeple from the comments above), rather than economic effect on our area. Can’t win a debate when you’re trying to convince someone to accept something against their morals… it just won’t happen.

Disclaimer (for Bryan): I work for a local website that promotes Spring Break, but we don’t really profit from it.. other than a few extra pageviews. Spring Break as far as I’m concerned… I could take it or leave it… as long as leaving it didn’t hurt the local economy (doubtful).


56 Steve March 28, 2008 at 5:34 pm


How long have you lived here? Do you have moral oppositions to what goes on during Spring Break? You and Bryan seem to have put a lot of effort into getting rid of Spring Break. Do you feel like your efforts are being heard or ignored? What was Jim Lawson’s and Bob Warren;s response to your report?



57 Patrick March 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Hi Steve: I think you nailed it on the head!

Hi Christina: I totally understand where you’re coming from now that you have told us that you have no business interests in Panama City Beach and that you don’t rent your condo. If I was just a resident, I might be against Spring Break too. But the fact is that most of us in PCB either own businesses here, work for a business here, or own property here which we rent.

This will be my final post on Spring Break, I have pretty much said everything I have to say. But I would like to add couple of important facts. I am what they consider a true local, not a transplant. I grew up here, went to High School here, and have seen Panama City Beach grow from “the redneck riviera” it used to be into the national and international tourist destination it is today. It accomplished this growth despite the presence of Spring Break. In fact, it owes much of this growth TO Spring Break.

Spring Break has garnered Panama City Beach the necessary media attention not just from MTV, but also from E! Television, the Travel Channel, all the major networks, and dozens of international TV stations – to put it on the map. Just last night, for example, the Jay Leno show had extensive coverage of Panama City Beach (not Destin)….the feature was funny, and in my opinion, in good taste.

I know there are people on this board who may have purchased condos during the height of the real estate bubble hoping for a quick flip, who are now seeing their values tumble and who blame Spring Break for their misfortunes. Yet research actually shows that the Panama City Beach real estate market is one of the most robust in the state, despite the huge statewide declines. Furthermore, Spring Break is not to blame since declines on a much larger scale have occurred elsewhere in the state including our neighbors to the west as well as South and Central Florida where Spring Break is a nonfactor.

For the people who continue to express their discontent with Spring Break and who keep comparing Panama City Beach to Destin, Ft. Lauderdale, and other places, I have news: We are NOT Destin. We are NOT Ft. Lauderdale, we are NOT any other place. WE are what WE are: Panama City Beach, a place that’s always been my home, a place with its own culture, its own traditions, its own values, and its own identity. We’re not perfect, but we’re growing and evolving.

Its impossible for EVERYBODY to be happy. There will always be some who are discontent and who wish we were more like some other place. To those people I respectfully say move to that other place and be happy, and let the rest of us be happy with what we have.

With the utmost sincerity,



58 Steve March 28, 2008 at 6:16 pm

*Agree w/ Patrick*


59 Christina Durta March 28, 2008 at 6:17 pm

How exactly are things going at Pier Park, Towne of Seahaven, Grand Panama, etc.? Every time I go to Pier Park the business seems slow. There are still alot of vacancies to fill at Pier Park. Towne of Seahaven doesn’t look like they are breaking any new ground. Grand Panama has alot of commercial space empty of Front Beach. In fact, there is alot of commericial space available all over PCB, isn’t there?

How are the condos doing? Bankruptcies, contracts that don’t close, empty rooms. Ever look up at a condo at night. Not too many lights on. How many condos are on the resale market? Quite a few. How many condo projects are at a standstill? Now the big business for realtors is marketing short sales. Scary stuff.

Yes, there has been great progress in PCB even in the last 5 years and it is awesome. Hopefully there is more to come. However, we are still a long way away from being a community that can support itself. The people here need high paying, year round jobs. They don’t get that from one month of Spring Break or working seasonal tourist related jobs. Like it or not potential investors and residents do consider the morals of a community when making decisions. They consider many factors and what goes on at Spring Break does leave a negative impression in many peoples minds.

Steve: Bryan and I do not take some moral high ground as a basis for our views. We really have never even stated that we are against Spring Break. We understand that right now many people do depend on it. If you read our report you would understand that.

Our sole goal is to make this community a better place to live. Tourism is just one part of the local economy and it should not take precedence over everything else. Not everybody is dependent on it. We would rather see this economy become self supporting. In order to do that you need investors to bring industry. Big industry does care about the impression it makes. Companies spend billions of dollars a year managing their images.

All we are saying is that image is important and it does translate into dollars. It is something people around here need to start paying attention to because binge drinking and provacitive behavior might impress teenagers, but the majority of corporate America wouldn’t dare associate themselves with it on a permanent basis.

P.S. Our report was featured on the front page of the News Herald the day the entire TDC was removed by the County Commissioners. It got peoples attention and it helped stir the debate. Many people read it and our only hope was that we could bring some new ideas to the table. We continue to do so today because we care about this community even though we have only lived here for about six years.


60 Christina Durta March 28, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Patrick: Thank you so much for opening yourself up to this discussion and sharing your insight. Nobody would put forth as much time and effort into this if they didn’t care. By your statements, I know you do and that is very much appreciated.

With respect,



61 Patrick March 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Hi Christina: I want to thank you and your husband Bryan for all your input and thoughts as well. Though we may disagree, I know both of you deeply care about this community and only want what’s best.

Much respect,



62 Steve March 28, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Christina – the available space in Pier Park and Grand Panama… that happens with any new development, especially when you factor in the current “recession.” I don’t think it’s fair to blame that on Spring Break at all.

Also, I’ve talked to the owners of Five Guys and Sunglass World recently… and the AE for Margaritaville’s agency… and they’ve all beat projections for the first month. Pier Park has been busy every single time I’ve been there (10 or so) How do you figure they’re struggling?

And all the empty condos… that is a direct result of 1) building too many condos at one time – supply outpaced demand (that’s what happens when you force change too much, too quickly) and 2) the current (nationwide)real estate market and the “credit-crisis… duh! I can’t even fathom how you could blame THAT on Spring Break.

And, sorry but, I’ve lived here for more than 30 years and PCB Is a self-sustained economy. Look around you. Salaries are higher than they’ve ever been. Sure, they didn’t grow as fast as the cost of living here (property values) but that is an issue in dozens of previously hot real estate markets all over the country. It’s already beginning to equalize as property values decline (you gonna blame that on Spring Break, too?!?!)

I’m open-minded… but, I’m having a hard time buying any of your points in your most previous comment.

And, did anyone on the TDC respond to your report? Has it been presented to the new TDC? I’m really curious what their response would be. And, I hate to burst your bubble… but the Spring Break controversies and arguments have all been around for longer than you’ve even lived here.

One thing I think transplanted locals don’t understand as well as people who were raised here… is that.. we’re a pretty laid-back community. We tend to let things evolve naturally. Sure, we might help push it in this direction or that direction, but expecting a community like ours to make an about-face is setting yourself up to be disappointed. Eveolving from PCB of the 90’s to the ultimate family destination is gonna take longer than 6 years. But, you should be able to look around you and see that the change IS happening. You’ll just have to be patient and it will eventually happen. I’m all for it… you just have let things run their course sometimes.


63 Steve March 28, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Christina – I finished reading your report. I don’t disagree that the TDC could make better use of their money… in fact, they’ve been cutting the SB budget every year forthe last 4 or 5 years without any real negative impact on Spring Break.

I however, disagree with many of the assumptions made in your report on how Spring Break affects our image or our overall tourism. Most of your assumptions are based on numbers that can be interpreted to support spring break just as easily as they can be used against it.

Props for being proactive, though. At least you stand up for what you believe and present your opinion very professionally. I wish more people would be as committed to research and professionalism as you were with your report. And I thank you for doing what you feel is the right thing for your community. I just don’t think SPring Break affects PCB as negatively as you claim in your report.


64 Chris Plyers March 28, 2008 at 10:25 pm


If I had the time to “figure all this out”, I’d get a job with the chamber or consult for the TDC. This a simple discussion, thus I used “simple” numbers garnered from what other posts had used above. At the end of the day (pun intended) neither one of us is right…because nobody really knows the true numbers as readily admitted by the TDC board. The Durta’s did much more work on their report, so use their numbers. I just don’t believe it would be impossible to replace SB’ers with families….and it’s just that, my humble opinion. As with anything it will take time, but I believe it’s time to get moving down that road.

The fact is it will not be easy to phase out Spring Break nor will it be easy to attract more families (if that’s the direction we go as a community). As my grandpa used to say…”if making money were easy, everybody would be rich!”

Just my humble opinion.



65 Steve March 28, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Christina – Do you own The Chocolate Mold Factory?


66 Steve March 28, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Wait a minute…. HOLD THE PHONE!!!!!

“We have absolutely no connection to any business in PCB.”

Visit this website:
“Affiliations: The Chocolate Mold Factory, Panama City Beach Spring Break Report”

Looks like the same Christina Durta to me.

So your statement about not being connected to any business in PCB was untrue??

That makes this statement untrue as well:
“Contrary to what some might think, my husband Bryan and I have spent alot of time trying to analyze this from an objective standpoint.”

Less money for Spring Break, more money to attract visitors that will benefit The Chocolate Mold Factory.. whatever your affiliation with them is.

Shame, shame.
You just lost all bit of credibility in my eyes… unless you have a really, really good explanation.

You almost had me fooled!


67 Jason March 31, 2008 at 7:22 am

WJHG has the opinion that this year’s spring breaker was better behaved than years past. “For the most part, the spring break season has been peaceful. There were only two seriously disturbing incidents. . . That’s a far cry from the number of injuries and deaths back in the 90s when visiting students were balcony jumping, getting into motor scooter crashes and overdosing on ecstacy, scoop and roofies.”


68 Steve March 31, 2008 at 7:42 am


Per our email conversation, I apologize for jumping to conclusions about The Chocolate Mold Factory. I should have contacted you instead of blasting you in this post. At any rate, I wish you well and hope I haven’t offended you beyond making amends.



69 Christina Durta March 31, 2008 at 8:26 am

Steve: Thank you very much. It takes an honorable person to come back to clear the air. It is deeply appreciated.

To be clear, Steve is right. I do own a website called The Chocolate Mold Factory. The Chocolate Mold Factory is an informational website directed to people who are interested in confectionery arts and mold making. It provides free instruction on making custom chocolate molds. In addition, chocolate molds, books, mold making supplies, and mold making equipment can be purchased through, eBay and other companies with whom I am an affiliate.

I did not disclose it because to me it is a hobby related website that most people in PCB probably would not find very interesting. I became involved in making custom chocolate molds several years ago. When I became pregnant I had to discontinue my efforts because the process involves using chemicals. Now that we have a child, I simply don’t have the time to operate this as a business because it is very labor intensive work. Any income I receive from the affiliate relationships is very minor and believe me, does not cover the time I spend working on the site and answering questions from people all over the world.

I will end my Spring Break discussion on this note. My hopes for this town extend beyond tourism. I would love for the future PCB to be a place where people live and work year round. If all those condos were filled with people who actually live here, I heartly believe that PCB would become a more vibrant and economically stable community. That is what I referred to when I said a self-sustained economy. An economy that does is not dependent on the whims of tourists, but is able to support itself from the people within.

So, to the extent, if any, that Spring Break and the promotion of the party scene distracts from that goal, I believe that it is not in the best interest of the community. That is all I have been trying to say.

Thank you to those who have listened and engaged in this discussion. It is the free thinkers who will make this a better place.


Christina Durta


70 Carol April 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Please let me know the truth about your beach area this week of april 8th…. My high school son is putting on the pressure to go to panama beach and destin with a friend’s family. Is the roudy part of spring break over and is this a place I could safely send a 16-year-old.


71 Charles April 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm


First questions is, is your son a personally responsible young man? Can he easily be led into a bad situation of drinking or doing something not well thought out?

Second questions is, what do you consider “rowdy”?
I.E. “The local cruise strip, here is our city has many kid mostly honking, hooting/hollering and trying to meet young girls of similar age. We don’t think it’s rowdy and we let our son go cruising with his responsibly friends on the weekend.”
“The local cruise strip, here is our city has many people adults and kid mostly drinking, honking, hooting/hollering and trying to meet girls, cops are regularly involved and we hear of situations about some fights or crime, but nothing really news worth… there young adults and it the cruise strip, We don’t think it’s too rowdy and we let our son go cruising with his responsibly friends on the weekend.

Now with that said, PCB and Destin are the first example. The cops DO pull kids over regularly but mostly for loud music, people hanging out the windows (hooting and hollering), or in the back of trucks seating on the edge, driving too slow and yes, some for drinking underage (a single beer here with all minors in the car will land the driver a night in jail, isn’t a permanent record from what I understand and mostly to scare the heck out of them!), and other little things… nothing on the scale of rape, murder, or mass drugs.

PCB and Destin, care about the well being of the family and do their best to keep spring break as safe as possible. PCB is more of the spring break destination for kids as it is spring break central and thus more kids are here, enjoying their youth.

Hope that help and please feel free the visit to ask more questions.

Best regards,


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