Busy weekend at the beach brings added attention

Locals and vacationers line the beach at the county pier on Sunday afternoon.
Locals and vacationers line the beach at the county pier on Sunday afternoon.(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 2:38 AM CDT
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Walking down to the beach, it may feel like summer. But while driving down front beach road, it looks and feels like spring break to many locals.

"More than I've seen any time in spring," Panama City Beach resident Burnice Russ said.

For a second straight week, tourist activity is high in Panama City Beach, with visitors from neighboring stats in particular sharing the same sand and hot spots as locals.

"We've walked around," said one weekend visitor from Sylacauga, Alabama. "We've been sightseeing. Probably going to do some tourist attractions, stuff like that."

Experiences have been mixed.

"If there was no virus, I wouldn't be worried at all," Russ, a native since the 1960s continued. "But I can't say that at all because there is a virus."

This week, perhaps a better time than last week.

"I feel safer. It's not as many people," Theresa Willis of Panama City said. "Everyone is being very kind. Last week I felt a little bit of tension, I think. I just wanted to be at the beach to get some vitamin D but it started getting so crowded I thought, 'I'm in the middle of spring break!'"

Memorial Day weekend produced one thousand calls to the Panama City Beach Police Department, 311 traffic stops, 67 fights and 46 arrests. Police enlisted the help of 40 extra officers this weekend,

"Police really just be doing the most for no reason," Nic Wright of Montgomery, Alabama said from atop his scooter. "We came out to have fun, but we can even ride up and down on the scooter. Go to a gas station, they stop, turn the lights on."

No major incidents have been reported by Beach Police or the Bay County Sheriff's Office. Aside from the beach rush, protests on the Hathaway bridge and across from the Shoppes at Edgewater remained peaceful...enough to keep locals and out-of-staters coming back for more.

"Love the sun, the beach, [and] the food," Brelle Wright said.

"There's still a lot of people, but it just seems that it's a lot calmer," Willis concurred.

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