Ordinances push for safety during spring break


Zachary Araki/The Lion's Roar

In response to the influx of visitors during spring break, some destinations such as Panama City Beach, Florida passed ordinances to maintain safety and order. These ordinances include outlawing the sale of alcoholic or intoxicating beverages between 2-7 a.m. and alcohol possession or consumption on the beaches.

For certain destinations, the arrival of spring break means a greater effort to maintain safety.

Panama City Beach, Florida implemented ordinances in response to the influx of spring break visitors. Some of the laws were enforced from March 1-31. The university’s spring break is scheduled from April 19-26.

According to the ordinance in Panama City beach, during March, no alcoholic or intoxicating beverage can be served or sold between 2-7 a.m. It is also unlawful to possess or consume any alcoholic beverage on sandy beaches. However, alcohol is allowed in controlled spaces including patio and pool decks. Consumption or possession of an open container of any alcoholic beverage in commercial parking lots is prohibited unless the parking lot is both under surveillance and control by the associated business.

Open house parties, parking in a closed business parking lot, overnight scooter rentals, metal shovels on the beach, holes in the sand deeper than two feet, and parking on an unmarked or unpaved portion of a right of way after a half hour past sunset, are prohibited. Climbing, jumping, spitting and throwing to or from a balcony is illegal.

As worded in the ordinances, these actions were in response to spring break visitors and subsequent behavior such as public urination, significant littering, fights and disorderly conduct and concerns from local residents.

Larsen Glover, a junior nursing major, disagreed with the efficacy of certain rules such as the ban on selling alcohol between 2-7 a.m.

“Most people that go are underage anyway, so they’re bringing their own alcohol,” said Glover. “So, not selling it after 2 a.m., they have it anyway already.”

Jebarri Cumberbatch, a junior kinesiology major, believes the laws were important to implement.

“Spring break is a very big thing, especially in Florida, and safety is very important,” explained Cumberbatch. “Putting things in place to keep everyone safe also attracts more people to go to spring break because alcohol and partying can get a bit crazy, especially on a beach. It’s very risky, so banning drinking from the beach helps bring safety. If somebody in the water drowns, that’s a lot of issues they have to deal with also.”

Panama City Beach is not the only place looking to increase safety and order during spring break. In a letter to spring break guests, Tony Kennon, mayor of the City of Orange Beach, differentiated Orange Beach from a party town.

On all public beaches in Orange Beach, alcohol consumption is prohibited. Glass is not permitted on the beaches, and beach items including tents, chairs and umbrellas must be removed every night.

For Cumberbatch, the festivities of spring break call for measures to ensure a safe environment.

“That break in the semester allows you to relieve all that stress, so it can get a bit crazy, especially with alcohol involved,” shared Cumberbatch. “Thousands of people gathering on a beach going crazy is kind of chaos, to be honest. So, to me, it’s all just for safety.”

Regardless of the rules at any particular spring break destination, Chelsea Cook, a sophomore nursing major, offered advice for students to stay safe over the break.

“If you want to have fun, that’s fine, but do it in a safe manner,” said Cook. “Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people that are going to take care of you, like take care of each other, knowing they’re not going to just leave you because you’re not listening. They’re gonna put up with you knowing you’re not in the right state of mind.”