‘We’re Over’: Miami Beach ‘Breaks Up’ With Spring Break

Over the next two weeks most colleges in the East and Midwest will have their traditional “Spring Break,” sending hordes of drug- and alcohol-fueled teenagers to sunny beaches where skimpy attire and nature’s pheromones combine to create a bacchanal of unparalleled debauchery. 

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But Miami Beach, the epicenter of Sin Central, spent $250,000 in a targeted ad campaign to tell the kids they’re not alright.

Lest you blame blue-nose city fathers for the crackdown, try directing your ire at the kids themselves.

Over the last three years, Miami Beach resembled Dodge City more than a young adult Disneyland. Miami Beach has been forced to declare a state of emergency after riots, shootings, and general mayhem.

I wrote this last year after another state of emergency was declared.

In a world gone mad, even the playgrounds have been utterly corrupted and destroyed by violence and mayhem. This is a different kind of “freedom” than the carefree, joyous carousing by college kids eager to get on with their adult lives.

There’s a different vibe in South Beach these days. There’s still a lot of drinking and sex, but there’s also a scary edge to the frivolity. And the cops — tolerant and somewhat bemused by the merriment in the past — are now racing from violent incident to violent incident.

Locals say the problem isn’t with college kids. The problem is the older adults who travel from all over the world to prey upon the kids and look to recapture some of their youth.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a clear message to the revelers.

“We don’t welcome mayhem and people that want to wreak havoc on our communities,” he said at a podium with the phrase “law and order” on a sign with an image of a snapping alligator.

“You just want to get drunk in public and ignore laws,” the city’s video addressing spring breakers says. “This March you can expect things like curfews, bag checks and restricted beach access, DUI checkpoints, $100 parking and strong police enforcement.”

It’s not like the Spring Breakers have nowhere else to go. Bloomberg points out that South Padre Island in Texas has spent several hundred thousand dollars trying to attract visitors during Spring Break.

“I know it’s a pain in the a** with the loud music and traffic and the drunk people, but our residents grit their teeth and bear through it for the month because they recognize the economic impact,” said Blake Henry, the executive director for the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Henry admits spring breakers are a nuisance. Drunk students regularly crash golf carts or drive them into the ocean and the drunk tank fills up nightly.

But like Miami Beach, South Padre Island also beefs up security. The city scans license plates for all who enter the single bridge into the island, city hall becomes an emergency operation center. It uses cameras to monitor activity and borrows surveillance balloons from Customs and Border Protection to monitor crowds.

A church group even feeds intoxicated students pancake breakfasts and provides safe rides around the island. Miami Beach’s Meiner, however, is conveying a decidedly less-welcoming message.

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The city’s 2,000 permanent residents are deluged with 1.7 million families, college kids, and hangers-ons during Spring Break. It’s not paradise but there’s a different vibe on the island compared to the hip party scene on Miami Beach.  Perhaps that’s the difference.

I certainly hope South Padre Island can maintain that charm and spirit of fun going forward.

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