Each March, thousands of young, sometimes-drunk tourists descend on Miami Beach, slip into neon-colored swimwear, and transform into spring breakers. With fake IDs in their beach bags and Pitbull blasting from portable speakers, this species can be observed guzzling beer from funnels and twerking on police vehicles before passing out face-down in the sand.
Sometimes, though, rowdy spring breakers are no joke. In recent years, Miami Beach Police have dealt with hit-and-runs, stampedes, and even deadly shootings during the busy tourist season. This year, city officials are trying to get ahead of the chaos — a new memo shows Miami Beach will spend $33,000 on a marketing campaign basically telling spring breakers not to come.
"This new plan is to reach out in advance to as many college students as possible who might be considering Miami Beach as their spring break destination to advise them that the MBPD will be rigorously enforcing traffic and quality-of-life laws and ordinances during the spring break period," City Manager Jimmy Morales writes in the memo.
The first wave of ads will geo-target social media users who may be planning trips to Miami Beach and direct them to MBspringbreak.com, a new website explaining which party activities might get them arrested. A prototype warns visitors to "Choose your bars wisely," with an accompanying photo of two hands gripping the bars of a jail cell.
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The second phase, which launches March 1, will advise spring breakers to "Come on vacation, don't leave on probation." Police say arrests will be made for open container violations, marijuana use, driving under the influence, and riding on top of vehicles, among other offenses.
The city's new marketing campaign comes a few months after Miami Beach Police began sending letters to college campuses and Greek life organizations warning there would be little leniency for lawbreaking spring breakers. The letters cited "student misbehavior during spring break" as a major reason for the harsher enforcement.
Police say they expect spring break to last through the month of March, with most arrivals between March 15 and March 24. This year, more officers will be out on patrol, thanks to an increase in overtime funding from the city.
As always, coolers, inflatable floats, and alcoholic beverages will be banned from the beach during spring break.