A Firecracker Fourth

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It's the last Fourth of July weekend for Miracle Strip Amusement Park, but sales don't match the end of an era weekend.

Buddy Wilkes, the general manager of Miracle Strip and Shipwreck Island, says this is the slowest season ever, despite the heavy rain and low turnout last year. "So, we're actually behind last year, so we're probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 percent off from a year ago which was the worst year we'd had up until then."

Tom Frowert, the owner of Shell Port, says there were less people walking through the store this year, saying business was down about 10-percent. "With the amusement park closing, it seems I'm hearing from some of the people that I get in my store that there's going to be less for families to do, and that's a concern to them."

This is also a concern for Shipwreck Island, which will stay open when Miracle Strip closes. Wilkes says the guests have noticed a price increase at local hotels. He says most think they're even paying considerably more at the parks, even though there was no increase at Miracle strip and a dollar increase at Shipwreck.

"They're paying a lot more than they used to for lodging, so that kind of negative impact is falling over onto people in the restaurant business as well as the attraction business." Something they might want to give more attention, since the tourist climate is quickly changing on Panama City Beach according to Dave Humphreys with the Panama City Beach Police Department.

"We had a lot of families here. Last year was kind of a mix of families and young people. Well, this year we saw almost all families."