Florida Breaks Up With Spring Breakers

Source: Flickr/Earl C. Leatherberry

Miami has been a popular location for spring break for decades. Every year, tens of thousands of college students crowd its bars and beaches. But this year, something has changed… and it could mean the end for Miami Spring Breakers.

When Did Spring Break Become A Thing?

What we now know as spring break didn’t become a thing until the 1930s. It was then that a college swimming coach decided to bring his team to Fort Lauderdale for some winter practice. The training became popular and soon other college students followed.

Source: Ypsilanti Historical Society

It’s not unusual for people who live in cold Northern states to flee South to enjoy some winter sunshine and warmth. What started innocently enough took 30 years to turn into the debauched event we know as Spring Break today.

Spring Break and Hollywood

In 1960, a movie came out that transformed the low-key, athletic version of Spring Break into something far more raucous. The movie was Where The Boys Are and it took America by storm. People saw the movie and Spring Break exploded.

Source: History Fort Lauderdale

Prior to the film’s release, about 20,000 students went to Fort Lauderdale every year, After, the number increased to 50,000 and had reached 350,000 by the 1980s. It was undeniably a transformative event that brought money and trouble to Florida.

How Many Students Go On Spring Break Every Year?

You might be wondering how many college students go on Spring Break every year. The answer might surprise you. As of 2023, approximately 1.5 million students travel for Spring Break every year. Of course, there was a dip in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.

Source: Flickr

Students go to a variety of places, but Florida has been popular for a long time. Its balmy weather, beautiful beaches, and Miami’s vast array of bars and clubs have proven to be irresistible to college students from all over the country.

Why Does Spring Break Get A Bad Rap?

It shouldn’t come as much of a shock to learn that the combination of rowdy college students and alcohol has transformed Spring Break into something undesirable. When thousands of drunken young adults gather, there’s sure to be trouble.

Source: Flickr/Matthew Straubmuller

Some of the issues that popular Spring Break locations have experienced include heavy traffic, vandalism, gunshots, stampedes, and even sexual assault and murder. It’s no wonder that some cities, including Miami, have had enough of Spring Breakers and are ready to break up with them.

Why Is Miami Done With Spring Break?

Miami has been a hugely popular destination for Spring Break. Miami Beach is appealing and surrounded by countless bars and clubs. Every year, students crowd its streets and serve as an annoyance for many residents.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Local authorities have cited traffic, stampedes, and crime as three of the reasons they’re ready to kick Spring Breakers to the curb. In recent years, a stampede after shots were fired led to people being killed. Local officials have had it.

Legal Barriers For Spring Breakers In Miami

City officials put their heads together to figure out what to do. They decided on an array of legal measures to put a halt to the worst behavior associated with Spring Break. These include new laws that they intend to enforce.

Source: AFP/Chandan Khanna

The measures they’ve put in place include curfews, DUI checkpoints, bag checks, and restricted beach access. They’ve put more police on the streets and they’re using drones to monitor crowds and spot problematic situations.

The Rising Cost Of Spring Break In Miami

On a related note, there are also efforts to make Miami Beach unattractive financially. While some college students have money to burn, others may not want to overspend. City officials figure that high costs can help to deter some visitors.

Source: AFP/Chandan Khanna

One of the most painful financial measures is a dramatic increase in parking fees. The city is charging $100 for Spring Breakers to park 40 blocks away from some beaches. That’s bound to be a deterrent to frugal Spring Break visitors.

Miami Beach Police Chief Speaks Out

Miami Beach police chief Wayne Jones had some strong words for Spring Breakers who come to Miami to raise a ruckus. “You come here, you have a good time, you behave, and we will invite you back.” So far, so good.

Source: Miami

Jones went on to warn, “If you come here, you break the law, we’re likely going to arrest you.” Those words could prove effective in keeping troublemakers away from Miami’s beaches and bars. Spring Breakers should know that Jones means what he says

Where Will Spring Breakers Go If Not Miami?

One of the concerns of some cities to the North of Miami is that Spring Breakers who are discouraged by the new policies may invade them, instead. It’s not an unlikely scenario given that some students may already have booked their tickets.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Two cities that have been specifically mentioned include Fort Lauderdale, the original Spring Break destination, and Hollywood. Both are concerned that they may see an influx of students who are ready to cause some problems for residents and local businesses.

What’s The Downside To Banishing Spring Breakers?

There is one big downside to banishing Spring Breakers from Miami Beach. While they may be rowdy, they also spend a lot of money during Spring Break. It’s not good financial news for businesses that Spring Breakers may go elsewhere.

Source: Miamiherald

According to organizations that track Spring Break statistics, the average American college student spends between $1,000 and $1,500 during Spring Break. There are economic downsides to the crowds, too. Students may damage property and cost cities thousands of dollars in cleanup expenses.

What’s Happening In Fort Lauderdale?

The city of Fort Lauderdale is battening down the hatches in anticipation of a Spring Break surge. The mayor has ordered additional police to patrol the streets and prevent trouble. They’re not looking to inherit bad Spring Breakers from Miami.

Source: NBCNews and Romain Maurice for The US Sun

On a related note, Fort Lauderdale has started a Bar Watch program. The program is designed to help the city’s bartenders spot potential troublemakers. Heading trouble off at the pass may be the most effective option for city officials.

Where Else Do College Students Go For Spring Break?

Of course, college students don’t only head to Miami Beach for Spring Break. Other popular destinations inside the United States include Orlando, Las Vegas, South Padre Island in Texas, and the beaches of South Carolina.

Source: Flickr/Lafayette College

For students who favor international travel, Mexico is a hugely popular destination. Some favored spots include Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Caribbean locations include Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Saint Lucia. There’s no shortage of places where students can go if Miami wants to keep them away.

What’s The Future Of Spring Break?

It’s unlikely that college students will stop traveling for Spring Break any time in the near future. It’s been a tradition for nearly 100 years. The key for destination cities will be figuring out ways to make Spring Break profitable while keeping it safe.

Source: AlNews

It remains to be seen how Miami’s Spring Break break-up will play out. Some students may be willing to pay high prices for parking and obey the law to enjoy the city and its beaches. Others may decide to head North, South, or West in search of a more welcoming vacation spot.

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Aimee Partridge

Written by Aimee Partridge

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