Hallelujah! Spring break is at our doorsteps, and for college students, who are pretty worn out by the semester already, this definitely calls for a celebration.
Many will spend it by traveling or by getting much-needed sleep and rest.
But we all probably know at least someone who is heading down to Panama City Beach, Florida, and, as the popular vernacular goes, “turning up.”
Panama City Beach is often referred to as “the spring break capital of the world.”
MTV, which annually covers different events and parties going on in the area, reports that approximately 500,000 students from all across the country come to Panama City Beach each year during spring break.
This means that in a town of only approximately 12,000 people, there are 42 tourists per local resident.
Due to the popularity of this destination, many of Troy University’s students who hail from that area have a much different spring break experience than the visitors and partygoers on vacation there.
Elizabeth Brazier, a junior math major, said that being from Panama City, Florida, and Panama City Beach are two different things. As she lives in Panama City, she avoids going to the beach for the most part.
“When I do go over to the beach, the best word I have is ‘uncomfortable,’ ” she said. “The traffic is a nightmare, and the spring breakers seem oblivious to the fact that not everyone is there to party.”
Brazier said that she wishes she could enjoy the beaches of her town “without having to worry about getting hit on by drunken guys or getting flashed by a girl with a horse mask over her head.”
Jeremie Murray, a junior global business major, said that this season brings a crowd that tends to have a greater ignorance towards the law and that the littering of the beaches with alcohol containers is a major environmental concern.
Nonetheless, the crowd also helps boost the local economy a great deal. “This surge of tourism and spending in our city affects the locals in a positive way,” he said.
Shelby Roberts, a junior nursing major, said that the many musical artists who come to Panama City “probably wouldn’t have come if it weren’t the spring break capital.”
For Brazier, Luke Bryan’s free concert has been a highlight each year, always lining up with her spring break ever since she moved there.
She said that although the variety of events scheduled during the week makes the place livelier with something exciting always going on, many people simply come with the mindset of seeing “How wasted can I get, and how many people can I hook up with?”
Murray also said that problems with underaged drinking, drunk driving and people falling out of balconies of hotels are all too common.
He said that he hopes that stricter implementation of laws regarding the sale of alcohol can help curtail those issues to a certain extent this season.
“In a perfect world, we would like for our spring breakers to follow the laws, respect the locals, and enjoy themselves during this week away from school,” he said.
Brazier shared similar ideals, “The most important thing spring breakers can do — beyond the obvious, making smart choices (like) staying hydrated, having a designated driver, etc. — is just to keep in mind that some people have no choice about being in PCB and respect that,” she said.
Regardless of the upheaval seen in the social scene of their town, those interviewed are still looking forward to going home to spend some time with their family and friends.
“I am excited to be going home, but not for the PCB spring break,” Brazier said. “I plan to spend most of my time away from the madness, relaxing and enjoying being away from school.”