Local Group Wants College Spring Break Eliminated

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Panama City Beach attracts thousands of college students every year for spring break.

And with a combination of alcohol and diminished inhibitions, that fun can turn into tragedy.

Mark Canfora of Canfora Ministries in Panama City Beach and his group "Families and Friends for a Safe Panama City B"each want spring break eliminated.

"It started really, it was with the news about the 18-year-old Tuscaloosa girl that raped and thrown from the 6th floor of the sandpiper beach hotel," Canfora said.

And since then, Canfora has been hitting the streets during spring break spreading the groups messages.

"This is not just me, I'm speaking for the people of this community and the victims, the deceased that have died here that came here with hopes and dreams and they left here in body bags," Canfora said.

He says over the past 20 years, there have been more than 50 deaths, thousands of rapes and sexual assaults and nearly 50,000 police reported crimes during Spring Break on Panama City Beach.

The group says they are tired of Panama City Beach's reputation when it comes to spring break.

But there are two sides to this story. Without spring break, Panama City Beach's economy could go down the drain.

"The tourism industry.Its the number one industry that we have," Dan Rowe, Tourism Development Council president said.

Tourism officials tell us spring break is expected to bring in over 70-million dollars to the local economy.

And Rowe says the TDC promotes Panama City Beach as a safe place to come each year.

"If the tdc gets out of spring break marketing business, will spring break go away? I don't think so because spring break is driven by the kids," Rowe said.

Canfora says the TDC isn't doing it's job, but Rowe says the TDC is doing it's job and deals with issues like these every year and works with the community to try and find solutions.

The "Families and Friends 4 a Safe Panama City Beach" will hold an emergency meeting Monday, March 30th at 7p.m. at Arnold High School.

For more information, visit www.ivegothope.com



 
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