Spring break has long posed a dilemma for Florida vacation communities. Businesses there crave the dollars students and other tourists bring in during the season, but law enforcement and residents are wary of the trouble that can ensue.
Last weekend, revelry at a Panama City Beach party turned extraordinarily violent with seven people being shot, and this week civic leaders clamped down.
From now through April 18, alcohol consumption has been banned on beaches and parking lots in Bay County, with violators subject to arrest.
The ordinance was passed by the Bay County commission and the Panama City Beach city council Tuesday.
With an eye to spring breakers from Georgia who may be heading to the area in the next couple weeks, the Bay County sheriff’s office asked that word be put out on the new law to students and their parents planning on making the trip. Metro Atlanta sheriff’s departments received the alerts from Bay County which asked them to notify parents of spring breakers.
It’s estimated that as many as 6 million young people hit Panama City Beach during spring break, USA Today reported. And Florida is a particularly popular spring break destination for people from Georgia, whether they are college students, other vacationers or second home owners who like the proximity.
In the incident early Saturday morning, seven people, including three students from Alabama A&M University, were shot at a house party several blocks from the beach. Three of the victims were taken to the hospital in critical condition.
A 22-year-old Mobile, Ala. man was charged with attempted murder.