City and County May Be Forced to Conform Beach Warning Flag System

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Local leaders may soon have to make a choice about the beach warning flag system. St. Andrews State Park is now adopting the statewide system. That leaves Panama City Beach and Bay County blowing with the only three-flag system on the Emerald Coast.

Beachgoers don't have to leave Bay County to run into major confusion when it comes to the warning flag system. St. Andrews has now adopted the five-flag system, similar to the one Walton County recently adopted. The change has beach-hoppers fed up.

"I noticed a blue flag at our resort. It's a bit different here at the state park. It's hard enough to keep track of one flag system. It's pretty ridiculous," says Joe Axe, visiting from Ohio.

State park officials say they're just conforming with the rest of the state to ensure everyone's safety. They've even added three part-time lifeguards for the summer's busy season.

"It's become more concise throughout the state with a system that has internationally recognizable symbols," says Carl Keen, St. Andrews Park Manager.

Panama City Beach leaders argue the three-flag system is the most recognizable in our area, but realize the tide may be changing.

"We've had our system for so long. You take pride in that, and become reluctant to change. Probably we need to be less reluctant if the state is going to have ads," says Panama City Beach Mayor Lee Sullivan.

Visitors to Bay County agree that conforming wouldn't be a bad thing.

"We're down here traveling from beach to beach. It's kind of ridiculous to try and figure it out," says Joe Axe.

Bay County Commissioner Cornel Brock says now that the island is surrounded by the new five-flag system it is time to finally conform, but Panama City Beach Police spokesman, MAJ David Humphreys, says the five-flag system is too complicated for most visitors to our area.