Will Spring Break Stay Or Go?

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - Authorities are staying busy this spring break with accidental shootings, traffic accidents, drug use, and deaths. Some are wondering if spring break in Panama City Beach is getting out of hand.

Spring break in Panama City Beach is filled with college students from all over the country. They're here to have a good time, but locals are afraid the busy season can get out of control.

"We've lived here for eight years now and I'm tired of hearing sirens all the time. I feel sorry for all of these kids that are getting hurt," said Trudy White, a Panama City Beach resident.

Since spring break started, Panama City Beach police and the Bay County Sheriff's Office arrested more than 150 people. A majority of those arrests were alcohol related.

The question of if Panama City Beach should take more forceful action like banning alcohol on the beach is coming up again.

"I think it would probably be a step too far, but we will see and if it gets to that point, then we can certainly do that," said Gayle Oberst, Panama City Beach Mayor.

Local authorities say they plan for thousands of spring breakers every year and have this year under control.

"I don't believe spring break is out of hand. We still got three solid weeks of college kids coming down and then we got families coming down, but far from out of hand," said Drew Whitman, Panama City Beach Police Chief.

County officials believe more laws won't stop dangerous incidents from happening.

"We live in a place that people come to because it's beautiful and all people aren't going to behave and i don't know that we can control that," said Mike Thomas, a Bay County Commissioner.

As for locals, some wonder if the business boom spring break brings is worth the trouble.

"I think that there is a lot of wildness that goes down, but I also think that there are certain venues that promote it," said Faye Wenzel, a Panama City Beach resident.

In years past, officials considered banning alcohol behind some of the clubs and even adjusting bar hours much like they've done at other spring break hot spots like Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach.\

However that pushed Panama City Beach to be the number one spring break location and it appears local officials aren't quite ready to get rid of it yet.