Spring Break mayhem being brought under control with overnight booze ban

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Miami’s Spring Break mayhem seems to be under control after the authorities implemented an overnight booze ban.

Liquor stores and supermarkets have been banned from selling alcohol from 6pm to 6am in a last-ditch attempt to bring an end to the chaos that has blighted the holiday.

The annual college students’ party, which draws as many as 600,000 young people to Florida from all over the US, has taken an increasingly ugly turn.

Five people were wounded in two shootings last weekend, with police saying officers are “exhausted” by the chaos with three weekends still left to go.

In recent years a 32-bed mobile hospital has been set up near the beach to treat revellers who have overdone it with the festivities and the Spring Break traditions of drinking, drug abuse and fighting.

One local described the atmosphere in the city as “like a zoo on steroids”.

“Our city is past its end point,” said the mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber, at a press conference. “We can’t endure this any more, we simply can’t.

“This isn’t your father’s, your mother’s spring break.

"This is something totally different. We don’t ask for spring break. We don’t promote it, we don’t encourage it, we just endure it, and frankly it’s not something we want to endure."

The curfew covering the city’s South Beach neighbourhood began at midnight yesterday (March 24) and is set to last until Monday morning.

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The festival began as a fairly modest affair in Fort Lauderdale in the 1930s, but by the late 50s it had already become synonymous with heavy drinking. One Spring Breaker of the time explained: “It’s not that we drink so much, it’s that we drink all the time.”

By the mid-1970s, Spring Break had become notorious for its wet T-shirt competitions and casual hookups.

The 80s saw revellers moving to Miami Beach, after residents of Fort Lauderdale cracked down on the endless drinking, drug use and public nudity.

But last year, Miami Beach declared a Spring Break state of emergency for the first time – deploying SWAT teams to control the worst of the violence.

One local wrote on Facebook: "Spring Break is here and you start seeing a sea of pasty white/drunk kids on fort Lauderdale Beach.

"My least favourite time of the year to be an airbnb owner."

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Another disgruntled Miami Beach resident said he had experienced so much anti-social noise as he took a stroll through his neigbourhood, that he felt like he had "moved to hell".

He wrote on Facebook: "This afternoon made me want to move.

"Between the people hanging out car windows and car stereos at 110db or the truck driving up and down with an air horn or the golf carts at 150% occupancy screaming at pedestrians I thought I’d moved to hell."

However Melba Pearson, a civil rights attorney, said: "Everything I’ve observed has been peaceful, just kids trying to have a good time, that’s all I've been seeing."

She claimed she didn't see the need for a curfew despite the violence.

"It’s an absolute overreaction," she told the Miami Herald.

Some revellers have already moved on from Miami, and Mexico is developing its own rowdy Spring Break tradition.

But already things there have got out of control, with the dismembered bodies of four men being found in the popular party district of Villas del Sol, Playa del Carmen earlier this week.

  • Students
  • Alcohol

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