Editorials

Spring break isn’t broken, but could be improved

Biloxi Black Beach Weekend

Spring breakers take a walk, ride along the beach in Biloxi.
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Spring breakers take a walk, ride along the beach in Biloxi.

All we’re asking for is a little patience.

From civil leaders, from public officials, from businesses and homes along the beach and a few blocks inland.

We believe we can overcome the problems evident in last week’s Biloxi Black Beach Weekend. Sure, it would be easier to say let’s just ban it or otherwise chase off what was probably a lucrative weekend for many tourism-oriented businesses.

For the rest of us, the Spring Break crowd, estimated as high as 60,000 young people, was a major headache.

But we believe those headaches can be cured.

Law enforcement for the most part did a commendable job. Faced with a much larger crowd than anticipated, they managed to keep the peace. There was some bad behavior — there is in every large event. Biloxi police responded to 1,042 calls and arrested 46 people, including nine on felony charges.

They were overwhelmed by the traffic, though. We have to come up with a better plan to deal with the huge influx of traffic on U.S. 90 and roads leading to it. We have to find a balance between the spring breakers who were clogging the roads in search of a good time and the people who live along the beach and Pass Road and would like to leave their homes and not spend hours in traffic.

And yes, there was a mess left behind. Mardi Gras and Fourth of July leave their share of trash, too.

Trash barrels on the beach were overflowing early on. We need a better system. We need even more trash cans and a way for crews to get in and out to empty them. We need the help of the visitors, too. And we need a commitment from promoters to help with the cost of the cleanup. Public works crew can’t clean up private property, but a crew hired by the promoters could.

We ask the promoters and officials to get together, share notes and work on the complaints we hear from readers and the complaints we hear from spring breakers. We need to build on the positives and deal with the negatives.

We want the Coast to be a welcoming place to all ages, to all races. We want to build our brand among visitors, encouraging them to return to the One Coast year after year, as well as among those looking for a new place to vacation.

From what we’ve heard, the promoters want a spring break next year and the young people want to come back.

Now is the time to start planning to make that experience more enjoyable for the breakers and less of a pain for the rest of us.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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