Alfred, Lord Tennyson, had it wrong. A young man’s fancy doesn’t lightly turn to thoughts of love in the spring. No, sir! His thoughts turn to SPRING BREAK. Well, let’s not be too hard on the British Poet Laureate. Spring break really didn’t begin in the U.S. until the 1930’s–a few decades before Alfred’s time.
In case you have been living under a rock and have no idea what spring break is, let me enlighten you. Technically speaking, spring break is a vacation period for schools and universities. Practically speaking, spring break is a riot–figuratively and, sadly, often literally. This period is associated with large gatherings of young people looking to have a good (translate “WILD”) time (translate PARTY!!!) in a warm climate.
Since I am neither college age nor attending an institution of higher learning, why would I care about spring break? Well, lucky me. I live near ground zero of Spring Break Party Central;; I’m about 50 miles or so west of Panama City Beach, “The Spring Break Capital of the World.” Party Central is a floating one. It originally was in Fort Lauderdale and then moved north to Daytona Beach. Now, spring breakers must “Go west, young man” to the sugar white beaches found in the Florida Panhandle.
This shift in Spring Break Party Central occurred because the previous locations were victims of their own success. Hordes of spring breakers descended on these other Florida cities leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Taking spring breakers’ money is nice, but dealing with their mayhem is quite another. What’s a city to do? Enact new ordinances!
In an effort to keep spring break activities within legal limits, Panama City Beach has enacted some ordinances which have been publicized in advance of Spring Break 2018 set to extend from March 5th through April 6th. Not only is the Panama City Beach publicizing their legal measures, but it is emphasizing that it will enforce them with “zero tolerance,” i.e., it really means business.
So what should spring breakers be aware of when they come to Panama City Beach? Obviously, there are the common sense things beachgoers need to know: stay out of the water if red flags are flying; wear sunscreen; stay hydrated. Spring break ordinances seem to stress common sense, which only goes to prove that common sense is a rare commodity, even for students attending institutions of higher learning.
Let’s consider what is and what is not banned behavior during spring break. Exhibit 1 is the ordinance making it illegal to climb on, jump off of or throw things from balconies. These actions are misuses of a balcony. Balconies were made to sit on and enjoy the view; they can also possibly be used as a location for drying wet swimsuits and towels. What idiot would jump from a balcony of a multi-story building? Answer: Quite a few inebriated spring breakers.
Unfortunately, this ordinance simply does not go far enough. It says nothing about spitting from a balcony, pouring beer off a balcony, or relieving oneself from a balcony. If I thought about it long enough, I am sure I could come up with a number of other stupid and rude behaviors which should be outlawed.
Moving on to Exhibit 2, we learn that there can be no possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the “sandy beach.” Huh? Isn’t a beach by definition “sandy?” Raise your hand if you have ever been on a non-sandy beach. Please tell us where that non-sandy beach is so we can avoid it. How can we play beach volleyball on a non-sandy beach? What fun is wriggling our toes on a non-sandy beach? How would we pitch our beach umbrella without sand to stick it in? Shaking my head.
Finally, we get to Exhibit 3. Open house parties are prohibited. Hey, I am all for that one. No open house I ever attended was any type of a fun party. Of course, a closed house party doesn’t sound like much fun either. Do the partygoers congregate in the yard or a non-sandy beach near the closed house?
Spring break ordinances aim to achieve law and order while young adult tourists are present. These measures seek to control the dangers of alcohol, public indecency and parties gone wrong. But aren’t those dangers that lurk on or near every college campus all the time? The location changes temporarily for spring break, but the behavior is still the same. More publicity is generated about bad behavior during spring break because the behaviors are engaged in en masse, i.e., everyone’s doing it!
Although Lord Tennyson never got to witness spring break, I am sure that he could have penned a fitting tribute. Perhaps he might say that “During spring break a college man’s fancy turns to thoughts of liquor, licentiousness and loud music.” Alliteration is so poetic, isn’t it? Poetic or not, I prefer to go with the romantic view of young men.becoming besotted with love in the spring rather than besotted with lager. Give me a break–and not the current spring one!