Here’s who’s here
Students from the University of West Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Valdosta State University, University of Texas, El Paso, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Clemson University and Morehead State University will be hitting area beaches this week.
On the west side of the Walton County line, ignorance is bliss.
Over at June White Decker Park Public Beach Wednesday afternoon, crowds were smaller and breakers were unaware of the crackdown March 11 at a Miramar Beach house party.
Sophie Dirardeau, a freshman at University of South Alabama, hadn't heard the news of the bust.
"That makes me a little nervous," she said.
Dirardeau and her friends said they were staying right across the street from the beach, only about 15 minutes away from the Miami Street crackdown.
When it comes to their own partying, the USA co-eds aren't too worried about getting in trouble.
"We're not the rowdy type," Dirardeau said. "We're not loud and obnoxious."
"We try not to act openly stupid," added freshman Grant Howell.
Another group of co-eds from Alabama — Auburn University to be exact — were also in the dark about Monday night's news.
"Wow, that would really put a damper on the party," said Jordan Holt, who was on break from Auburn University. "You never want the cops to come."
But they have been out in force in Walton County, which is closing in on almost 500 arrests. Okaloosa hasn't been nearly as busy on the law enforcement front. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office had not totaled the number of arrests as of press time Friday.
"So far, we have not had the significant type incidents similar to what Walton has experienced and for the most part it has been a typical spring break," said Michele Nicholson, public information officer for Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. "To this date we are however seeing crowds once again in the Villages at Crystal Beach with many students opting to rent beach houses."
With the flags and decorated coolers sparsely sprinkled along the Destin beach, it was a stark comparison to a couple miles away at the Whale’s Tail in Walton County, where a sea of humanity packed the beach with a perimeter of law enforcement making periodic arrests. On the Destin side, there was little police presence, or need for that matter.
Small groups of spring breakers, including families, quietly laid out in the sand and avoided the cold ocean water — an almost living testament to the recent announcement that Destin was voted the Travel Channel’s top family friendly beach.
Destin has fostered that atmosphere by requiring hotel guests to be at least 25 years old and by marketing to families.
"It's a lot better than Panama City," said Aurburn student Alexa Bearden on her first Destin visit. "Way chill."
Panama City, Holt suggests, is exactly where minors should go if they want to imbibe without the risk of getting caught.
"That's where I did all of my underage drinking," he said.