On April 1, all hell broke loose in college communities across the country as the Panama City Beach City Council approved a motion to ban alcohol consumption on their beaches during spring break.
Panama City Beach has been the top destination for many to parade drunkenly through the sand and partake in other wild activities. Since the law had been passed many people -- aside from those who were involved in the council meeting to discuss the law -- have taken to social media to discuss the matter. While discussion has still been going on, others are simply scouring the Internet for alternative ways to celebrate this vacation week.
Members of the organization Citizens United for Panama City Beach, which also includes many hospitality workers, fear greatly that the ban will hurt the city's economy. On the other hand, many attorneys at the meeting boldly voiced their opinions.
Local attorney Wes Pittman stated his argument on behalf of those encouraging the more drastic measures endorsed by Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, including the alcohol ban.
"Where do you stand in the universe?" Pittman asked. "Do you want to be remembered by open sex on the beach?"
Many college students, including University of North Texas kinesiology senior Megan Leonard, believe that the ban will not affect those from doing the same activities at other locations.
“You know, everyone is different. When I think of spring break, I think of relaxing and getting away from school. Other people's idea of relaxing is getting drunk everyday and hooking up with people," Leonard said. “I feel like PCB is something everyone should at least experience in college, but it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea and that's okay."
For the scourers looking for a new hot spot for spring break 2016, it looks like updating your passports and hitting up the beaches outside of U.S. borders are becoming a trend. UNT interdisciplinary art studies student Katrina Westermann, who plans to spend her next spring break in Cabo/Cancun, believes others are doing it to live free from legalities.
“It's more appealing now that there is an alcohol ban at PCB because everyone in college that will be going can legally drink in Mexico," Westermann said. “I think the only reason people were going to PCB in the first place was simply because it's always easier to travel within the country than out of the country."
Other great spring break destinations include:
- Destin, FL: It's still in the sunshine state and it has a lot more tourist options for those who are not fans of the many bars and clubs in PCB.
- Anywhere outside the U.S.: Besides the legal drinking age being 18, there are many amazing trips that aren't tropical (i.e. backpacking through Europe) for those who are looking for exciting new adventures. Overseas trips aren't exactly a small price to pay, but there are many who have done them on a decent budget that is definitely worth it if you save up ahead of time!
- Amusement parks: Disney World, Disney Land, Six Flags, or anywhere with glorious junk food and a couple of kick ass roller coasters can make for a great spring break.
- Stay-cation in the nearest downtown or state capitol: As a fellow Dallasite, I can say downtown Dallas is a great spot to discover new restaurants, cool music venues, and awesome places to shop and blow your money if spending all your savings is an activity you enjoy. Fort Worth and Austin are also great cities to find new places that you may have never seen before, and it's worth a try! Grab your friends, book a hotel room, and see what's out there!
Overall, I agree with many that the ban will not affect PCB spring break attendance. The great city of Panama City Beach is a strong tourist destination that consistently gains revenue to where one week will not run it into ruins. As young adults we have the freedom to do what we can while we can, as long as safety is on the mind and being reckless isn't.
C'est la vie, everyone. Everything will be okay!