Boardwalk RV Park Zone Change Application Withdrawn

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

In what could seem like a temporary victory to the current (and concerned) property owners at Boardwalk Beach Resort, the developer requesting a zone change to allow an RV park has withdrawn his application.  Whether you love RV’s or hate them, allowing them on a gulf front property such as this was a potential precedence that was concerning to local property owners.

The application would have changed the zoning from T-2 to T-M, allowing the property to be used for mobile homes, travel trailers, motor homes, motels, hotels, condos, town homes, apartments, churches, clubs, lodges, parking lots, parking garages and mobile home sales.

Working through the education of this matter, it was made clear how concerned people were about this.  While there were some that believed this was a great idea, there were many that were in opposition of this change.

Here were some of the comments we saw.

The Developer had a vision in 2003 – 4 Luxury hi-rise condo buildings with world class amenities. . . Now the same Developer – Royal American Development Inc. . . has a new vision – let’s put a low investment mobile / RV park and trailer storage facility next to this luxury condo to at least generate some income.  The obvious result will be lower property values in this “mixed use” scenario resulting in lower property taxes collected and lower sales tax revenues for the governmental entities. . . The developer also owns most of the amenities seaward of the building’s footprint, the fitness center and the condo commercial space on the 1st floor of Boardwalk Central. How will the Boardwalk owner keep the “trailer people” from over-running our amenities? ~ Jim Vider

There is no distinction for a “high end” luxury motorhome park in the licensing application for travel trailer parks. Any size or type of trailer can and will be allowed in here. The market will decide that. Once the zoning is changed the parcel can be sold or leased (it’s more valuable now) and all the slick marketing materials and promises won’t prevent it from turning into a field of BBQs, barking dogs, lawn chairs and clotheslines. ~ STL

The area the developer wants rezoned was to be phase 2 of the project. I certainly can understand the cash pinch the developer has, but lowering the value of properties owed in Boardwalk Central as well as Top of the Gulf through the creation of a “campground” is outrageous. ~ Bill

Excellent use for this parcel of land, as homeowners a luxury RV resort adds more value than a vacant construction lot and puts more occupancy tax into town too! Great idea, move forward without delay! ~ Cat

I think this is a fabulous idea. It seems to me that some of the people commenting on here and the one owner that was interviewed on TV have no concept of a luxury motorcoach or RV. . .  I applaud this development group for actually trying to go down another avenue that is a win win for both them and our local economy. . . Are we really going to argue that this developer SHOULD build another condo. . .  Have we learned nothing from the past 4 years? ~ Gilly

11/7/2009 – Ironman Florida

For the 11th year in a row, Ironman Florida brings the race back to the warm Gulf waters of Panama City Beach.  Last year’s event was a blast with many walking (or limping) away with personal best records and Bella Bayliss walking away with the trophy.  This year’s event will start out in the Gulf behind Boardwalk Beach Resort and the final runners at the end of the race will finish their day at Spinnaker Beach club.

Read on for all the details.

Continue reading “11/7/2009 – Ironman Florida”

11/7/2009 – Ironman Florida

For the 11th year in a row, Ironman Florida brings the race back to the warm Gulf waters of Panama City Beach. Last year’s event was a blast with many walking (or limping) away with personal best records and Bella Bayliss walking away with the trophy. This year’s event will start out in the Gulf behind Boardwalk Beach Resort and the final runners at the end of the race will finish their day at Spinnaker Beach club.

Read on for all the details.

Continue reading “11/7/2009 – Ironman Florida”

EVP Pro Volley Ball Tour on Panama City Beach

Spike It! EVP Pro Volleyball Tour

On September 5th and 6th, the Boardwalk Beach Resort on Panama City Beach will host. The 2009 EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour is coming to Panama City Beach. The top players from across the nation will bump, set, and spike their way through this years Labor Day Weekend tournament, and compete for $6,000 in prize money. There is also a juniors division tournament with Under 21 College, Under 18, Under 16, and Under 14 divisions.

Sponsored Event: Boardwalk Beach Resort at Royal American Beach Getaways has teamed up with the EVP Tour to host a televised beach volleyball event September 5th – 6th, 2009.

For more information on the event, please go to www.evptour.com

Thunder Beach Still Has Some Lightning

thunderbeach053The weeks leading up to Thunder Beach weekend I listened to and was inadvertently absorbed into spirited debates about the chromed-out 3 day event. Some people love it, waxed their bikes, strapped on the chaps and venue-hopped all weekend. Others loathed it, cursed it from their cars as group rides roared by them and spent the weekend avoiding the outdoors. It is, like Spring Break, a very polarizing event to say the least.

But as I attended a venue at Frank Brown Park, the air smelling of BBQ pork and exhaust pipe, chrome glinting in the sun, I found myself siding with the bikers and the pro-Thunder Beach gang. Yes, the event brings money to Panama City Beach and economically covers a seasonal dip in our tourism, but none of those things swayed me. There were a few things I noticed at Frank Brown. First, I noticed some of the most hardcore bikers, men that looked like they ate meat raw, as giddy as teenagers. Leather clad folks walked the Frank Brown Park grounds in high-spirits; no screaming and no fighting, just bike lovers enjoying bikes. I also noticed an atypical sense of camaraderie. Strangers sat together to discuss engine types, drifters perused vendor stations asking questions and buying merchandise. None of this seemed remotely “spring-break-ish” to me.

But what I found the most astonishing was the cleanliness. There was little trash anywhere; the place was virtually spotless. On our beach this weekend we endured thousands of bikers, hundreds of thousands of cases of beer and water bottles but I challenge you to show me a parking lot that looked anything like the post-Lil Wayne concert landfill. I scratched my head and wondered, other than the noise, what’s makes some Panama City Beach residents loathe thunder beach? The answer didn’t come to me until I ventured over to Pier Park to watch the Harley Davidson Drill Team.

thunderbeach088Pier Park was packed with people all over the place; the venue really seemed to have a lot going on. After the drill team’s awesome bike safety show, I walked over to the bike showcase to get a sense of the crowd, which, different than the Frank Brown park crowd, consisted mostly of families. By the dozens, babies in strollers gawked at bikes along with their parents, fathers, with proud arms draped around their sons, used the venue to teach their boys about the artistry behind bike design.

Watching the crowds, I thought, this is what Thunder Beach is supposed to be. But then, while I snapped shots of antique roadsters, a woman walked up wearing a bikini that covered the bare minimum of her triple X parts. Mind you, this all happened 5 steps from a carousel filled with children. Families pulled their kids away and the mood, which had been a mellow excitement, mutated into something far less wholesome. At that moment I realized what all the fuss was about.

Thunder Beach has two very distinct personalities. For the majority of the Thunder Beach crowd it’s all about good clean fun. But for every 25 fun-loving bikers, there’s 1 who will make all the others look bad–real bad. Throughout the week I saw things like the Kevin Kight memorial parade where 1,000 riders paid tribute to one of our city’s fallen heroes. I followed the Thunder Beach tweets which boasted updates about the real fun being had all over the beach. At the same time, I listened to stories from residents whose babies were thrown out of sleep by a bike tearing through a residential street and a mother in a kid-stuffed mini-van being berated with profanities for a simple merging mistake (Sorry Ash). If you don’t believe me you should read some of the comments on my last Thunder Beach post. Both sides have valid arguments, but what’s the solution?

Truly, there is no solution, but perhaps there is a middle ground. Frankly, I thought this year was one of the best the city has experienced. Droves of people and business hit Panama City Beach during a seasonal tourism drought. Most venues were classy, exciting and people really had an awesome time. I wouldn’t change anything about how well Thunder Beach Productions and other private organizers handled a very successful event. Not everyone’s experience with the event was as good as mine and for the people of our city to welcome bikers, compromises have to be made. Here are a few ideas I thought up.

1. Tighten up the venues. There was so much going on so many different places all over the beach that can cause an inconvenience. Acknowledging how important it is to involve business as well as provide bikers a chance to “ride” from place to place, one less venue could mean even better organization.

2. Restrict residential streets. I don’t want to go all “Myrtle” on the bikers because they are welcomed here, but certain residential roads shouldn’t have to endure bikers at 2am. I don’t know how or if this is even possible, but it should be considered.

3.Post safety and warning signs. Sometimes people just don’t know what you stand for or don’t condone if you don’t tell them. Post signs during the weekend to ask bikers to be have fun, be safe and show courtesy. “Be Nice…I’m Local” should do the trick.

In the end, I have to say kudos to everyone involved in a great event. The stunt bikes at Frank Brown Park were amazing and the bands, oh the bands, tore stages up all over the beach. Although, I believe the bickering between residents and Thunder Beach is ongoing, one thing is for sure, whether you love it or hate it, they put on one heck of a show. Huge shout out to Corky over at Thunder Beach Productions, great job and thanks for everything.

I’m curious to hear what ideas other people have come up with. What are your Thunder Beach experiences and would you change anything about it? Post your comments here.

Be sure to check out our Thunder Beach Videos at YouTube.com/pcbdaily

Athletes Cometh: 27th Annual Gulf Coast Triathlon

triathlonIt’s that time of year again when trained athletes hit Panama City Beach for the 27th annual Gulf Coast Triathlon, a grueling event that pushes its participants to the limits of endurance. On May 9th, 2009 thousands of competitors from 40 states and 17 countries will come to Panama City Beach to confront the course of flat roads and rugged but warm water. On the Panama City Beach course competitors have a chance to set their best personal times. Last year, Mike Neill from British Columbia, Canada, won his third straight Gulf Coast Triathlon in 4:06:38. But just because Panama City Beach is ideal for time doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult to the point of insanity.

The event breaks down like this; in waves, competitors have to endure a looping open-water 1.2 mile swim. The swim is followed by an astonishing 56 mile bike course that travels through residential and commercial areas of Panama City and Panama City Beach. The icing on this indigestible cake is a 13.1 mile half marathon.

If you’re not a competitor, the event is definitely worth seeing. It’s an extreme event and competitors really stretch themselves to the limit.

Boardwalk Beach Resort will host this year’s Triathlon, and in November will also host the Ironman Triathlon, one of the full distance qualifiers for the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii.

The Gulf Coast Triathlon benefits charities like Panama City Marine Institute, Panama City Beach Cops and Kids and others.

Below is the event schedule

Date & Time
Saturday, May 09, 2009 @ 6:15 AM

Location
Boardwalk Beach Resort
9450 S. Thomas Drive

Event Schedule

Day 1
-Thursday, May 7th

12:00pm – 6:00pm
-Sports Exposition
-Registration / Packet Pick-up at the Boardwalk Beach Resort Conference Center

Day 2
Friday, May 8th 9:00am – 9:00pm
-Sports Exposition

12:00pm – 9:00pm
-Registration / Packet Pick-up at the Boardwalk Beach Resort Conference Center

3:30 – 9:30pm Bike Check-In

5:30 Pre-Race Dinner & Athlete Meeting
-Dinner will be beachside at The Boardwalk Beach Resort.
-Your choice of Pasta
– Guest Ticket: $10

Day 3
-Saturday, May 9th6:15am Race Start
-Post Race Party

6:00pm Party and dinner Spinnaker
Guest Ticket: $20.00
-Awards Ceremony

The Thunder Rolls: Thunder Beach Schedule

img_7064Thunder beach weekend has arrived on Panama City Beach. Already the streets are lined with amazing bikes, the venues packed with vendors and leather-clad customers and all over the beach the excitement is palpable. This is the weekend to get out and enjoy the scene. On stages at seven different venues artists are performing live music, free bike demos are available and X-game-style bike stunts are blowing people away. Thunder Beach Productions has put together a weekend that should keep the thunder rolling. Here is a list of the weekend’s events.

Boardwalk Beach Resort
9400 South Thomas Drive
Panama City Beach, Florida 32407
Thursday September 30, 2008

Friday : May 1, 2009
Location:
Boardwalk Beach Resort
Time:
9am ? until Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
1pm “Sizzle” ? Lingerie Show
1pm Full Throttle Magazine’s Freaky at The Tiki Party
4pm “Show Me Your Tat?s” ? Tattoo Contest
6pm Miss Thunder Beach Pageant Finale
6pm to 9pm Live Entertainment GRIP

Saturday May 2, 2009
Location:
Boardwalk Beach Resort
Time:
9am ? until Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
1pm “Sizzle” ? Lingerie Show
1pm-5pm Live Entertainment Drew Tilman Acoustic
1pm Butt?s And Bellies – Male Fashion Show
4pm “Show Me Your Tat?s” ? Tattoo Contest
6pm to 9pm Live Entertainment Kathy Jo & The Bluzification Band

Sunday : May 3, 2009
Location:
Boardwalk Beach Resort
Time:
9am ? until Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business

The Shoppes at Edgewater
513 Beckrich Road
Panama City Beach, FL

Saturday May 2, 2009
Location:
The Shoppes at Edgewater
Time:
9am ? til Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-2pm Live music with Holdcell
3pm-6pm Live music with Rebel Syndicate
7pm-11pm Live music with The Drew Tilman Band

Sunday : May 3, 2009
Location:
The Shoppes at Edgewater
Time:
9am ? til Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business

Club La Vela
8813 Thomas Drive
Panama City Beach, Florida
32408

Thursday : April 30, 2009
Location:
Club La Vela
Time:
9am-til Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-2pm Live music with TBA
2pm -5pm Live music with Rebel Syndicate
5pm-8pm Live music with ODIS

Friday : May 1, 2009
Location:
Club La Vela
Time:
9am-til Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-2pm Live music with Kelly Hundly & The Healers
2pm -5pm Live music with Rebel Syndicate
5pm-8pm Live music with Holdcell

Saturday : May 2, 2009
Location:
Club La Vela
Time:
9am-til Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-2pm Live music with Newfangled Theory
2pm -5pm Live music with ODIS
5pm-8pm Live music with King Cotton

Sunday : May 3, 2009
Location:
Club La Vela
Time:
9am ? til Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business

Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant & Bar
15201 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida 32413

Wednesday: April 29,2009
Location:
Sharky’s Beach Front Restaurant & Tiki Bar
Time:
6pm ? 8pm $2.50 Drinks & Drafts All Brands
8pm – 1am Kickass Karaoke

Thursday : April 30, 2009
Location:
Sharky’s Beach Front Restaurant & Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-til Food & Bar ? Burgers, BBQ & $2 Beer
12pm-6pm Bikini Bike Wash Sexy Suds & Shine
4pm-6pm Hawg Happy Hour
8pm – 12am Live Entertainement with TBA
12am Bodacious Biker Babe Contest

Friday : May 1, 2009
Location:
Sharky’s Beach Front Restaurant & Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-til Food & Bar ? Burgers, BBQ & $2 Beer
12pm-6pm Bikini Bike Wash Sexy Suds & Shine
4pm-6pm Hawg Happy Hour
8pm – 12am Live Entertainement with TBA
12am Bodacious Biker Babe Contest

Saturday May 2, 2009
Location:
Sharky’s Beach Front Restaurant & Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
11am-til Food & Bar ? Burgers, BBQ & $2 Beer
12pm-6pm Bikini Bike Wash Sexy Suds & Shine
4pm-6pm Hawg Happy Hour
8pm – 12am Live Entertainement with TBA
12am Bodacious Biker Babe Contest

Sunday : May 3, 2009
Location:
Sharky’s Beach Front Restaurant & Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Schedule Coming Soon!

Pier Park
600 Pier Park Drive
Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Thursday : April 30, 2009
Location: Pier Park
Time:
10am-til Demo Rides with Yamaha, Boss Hoss & CF Moto

Friday : May 1, 2009
Location:
Pier Park
Time:
10am-til Demo Rides with Yamaha, Boss Hoss & CF Moto

Saturday May 2, 2009
Location:
Pier Park
Time:
10am-til Demo Rides with Yamaha, Boss Hoss & CF Moto
11am-til USRider News Best of The Beach Custom Bike Show

Sunday : May 3, 2009
Location:
Pier Park
Time:

Frank Brown Park
16200 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, FL 32413

***Demos and X-Game Stunts
Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort
17403 Front Beach Rd,
Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Monday April 27, 2009
Location:Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
8pm ? til Live music with GENEVA

Tuesday April 28, 2009
Location: Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
8pm Live music with MUSTANG SALLY

Wednesday: April 29, 2009
Location: Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
7pm Thunder Beach Kick Off Party
7pm Free Body Painting in the Tiki Bar
8pm Live music with MUSTANG SALLY
9pm Beachside Fireworks Display

Thursday : April 30, 2009
Location: Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
7pm-til Free Body Painting in the Tiki Bar
8 pm Live music with MUSTANG SALLY

Friday : May 1, 2009
Location: Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
3pmam Live music with GENEVA
7pm-til Free Body Painting in the Tiki Bar
8 pm Live music with ELI

Saturday May 2, 2009
Location: Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
3pmam Live music with GENEVA
7pm-til Free Body Painting in the Tiki Bar
8 pm Live music with ELI

Sunday : May 3, 2009
Location: Sandpiper Beacon & The World Famous Tiki Bar
Time:
11am Vendors & Exhibitors Open for Business
2pm TO BE ANNOUNCED

Rock’it Lanes
Shoppes at Edgewater
513 Beckrich Rd
Panama City Beach, FL 32407

***Vendors and Music

Thunder Beach Will Be Huge. Thanks Myrtle Beach

2890942751_ccc7337011If you’ve been aching to don that new leather vest and harness boots, ache no more. On April 30th Panama City Beach shall rumble, heralding the return of the Thunder Beach Spring Rally. From end to end, families, riders, celebrities, artists and some of the most spectacular bikes in the world will cover the beach.

Regarded by many as the “most biker friendly free rally in the United States”, the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally is always a big event. But this year’s event may be the best and biggest Panama City Beach has ever experienced and Myrtle Beach may have a lot to do with it.

As many of you know, Myrtle Beach is Panama City Beach’s largest competition when it comes to bikers and rallies. But by the looks of recent law changes, they might be getting out of the business. Recently, a 3 million dollar property tax increase was passed in Myrtle Beach to fund anti-rally efforts. That’s not the half of it. Myrtle Beach has also added new laws declaring unpermitted rallies and events to be public nuisances, created a midnight curfew, closed bars at 2 am, required all motorcyclists to wear helmets (not a requirement under state law), towing and impounding all motorcycles that do not meet noise standards, checkpoints where motorcycles will be monitored for noise, and traffic diversion such as barriers and closed streets. So what does all this mean? Basically, it means a bigger rally for Panama City Beach, and I’m sure the local businesses will take it.

“We’re definitely expecting huge turnout this year.” Says Corky McCollum, A Thunder Beach Productions coordinator. “We’ve got bigger events, more venues and the total numbers of vendors have increased considerably.”

The schedule for bike week is substantial and the venues cover the entire beach. The list of venues include, Shoppes at Edgewater, Club La Vela, Sandpiper Beacon, Boardwalk Beach Resort, Sharky’s, Pier Park, Rockit Lanes and Frank Brown Park.

And the events this year are family-friendly. There will be demos all over the beach particularly the Harley Davidson Drill Team at Pier Park. They’ll be teaching and doing all sorts of stunts. If that doesn’t make you want to jump into your chaps, at Club La Vela, Speed Channel’s Jay Barbieri, host of American Thunder, will be hosting a televised “Build Off” allowing two bikers to pick any parts from their accessory demo rig to amp-up their bikes. Suckerpunch Sally, an old-school bike manufacturer will be giving away one of its beautiful custom bikes during a VIP party at Ebro Greyhound Park. At Frank Brown Park X-game enthusiasts can witness firsthand the amazing jumps seen on television as stunt bikers hit ramps and the “Ball of Death”. Live bands will be playing at all the venues. Everyone is welcome to come out to enjoy the events and, if nothing else, gawk at some amazing bikes.

Without doubt, the Thunder Beach Spring Rally is expected to be a success. So I guess, if things go as planned, we should all head to Hallmark, get a nice big thank you card and send it to Myrtle Beach. I’ll be the first to sign it.

Flo Rida, NERD Rocked the House, Crowd More Tame

After the Lil Wayne show last week organizers came away with valuable experience on how to handle “big” names in our little beach town.  I thought it was pretty crazy, but didn’t realize the chaos that was actually unfolding all day – I guess that was one of the reason the media was kicked out.  If last week’s show was a cat 3 hurricane, yesterday was a tropical depression.  Of course, the turnout wasn’t quite as hefty either.  Good show guys, good show.

Unfortunately I was unable to make the finals for the USA Rock Paper Scissors (otherwise known as USARPS) competition, but one lucky (or strategically cunning, ‘eh Matti?) college student walked away with a hefty $20,000 check payable to his college tuition.  He’s a mechanical engineering student at Syracuse, so he needs the money.  Congratulations “Naco”.  More on USARPS later.

NERD rocked the house.  The lyrics weren’t exactly kid-friendly, but the music was actually quite awesome.  They played with two drummers who were both amazing and refused to shy away at showing off their talent.  Being a drummer at heart that hasn’t played in years, I still love a great drum solo.  Maybe one day I’ll own a set again.

There weren’t as many in attendance, but I would say that thousands were still there.  I think I was the only press allowed in – I feel special.

Encouraged by the performers, the audience practiced copious amounts of crowd surfing and were egged on to create a mash pit.  The energy was high and the crowd seemed to jump with every beat.  Most everyone was college age, but I saw a few younger and older – some with parents.

As I was heading up to the roof, I asked a friend that works for Boardwalk, “So, where’s Flo’s tour bus,” remembering the craziness getting Lil Wayne from his bus to the stage.  “No buses are allowed on property.  He was escorted in earlier quietly to prevent pandemonium.”  I asked where he was, her reply: “I can’t even tell you, Jason.”  I thought I was special.

Flo Rida was on time, right on time, actually.  Of course, I think his maturity as a performer was evident.  He was professional at getting the crowd hyped often joining the crowd at their level and at one point offering to give away his diamond cross necklace, “. . . diamonds are a lady’s best friend,” he said.  I didn’t see him actually give the necklace away, I’m sure that would have been greatly discouraged as it was probably worth tens of thousands of dollars.  I think we would have surely seen a mash pit then.

On this particular sunny day, the sand was warm, and the water was warmer than last week, although it was still a brisk 68 degrees.  But, the air temp was close to 80, but in the sweaty crowd, it felt like 90.

I took a couple hundred pictures, here are the best 40-something.  If you aren’t following us on Twitter, you missed some great live updates.  Follow us now so you can keep up with all the live action in the future.  Plus, you can keep up with what we are doing throughout the day and be notified of new posts.

Me, Lil Wayne, and Spring Break 2009 on Panama City Beach

Spring Break 2009 delivered Lil Wayne to our crystal white sand beaches today.  Thousands, if not tens of thousands of people were in attendance to see who was described to me earlier as the biggest name in entertainment in the U.S. today.

What began as a foggy morning burned into clear skies by 8:30 am.  When I took my boys to school today, visibility was 100 feet at best, actually quite scary to drive in.  This afternoon at 1pm, when I arrived on the scene, the fog had returned, but was quickly dissipating.

In route to the show, traffic was backed up past Wal-Mart on Middle Beach Road.  Moving slowly, we rolled our way to South Thomas Drive, dodging spring breakers and their automobiles.  With music blaring and bass shaking my car, breakers waited anxiously for the car in front of them to advance, bringing them all closer to the single defining event that many of them had been looking forward to for weeks, even months.

After intense negotiations with peds and cars, I made my way into the parking area of the Royal American Welcome Center, just 1500 feet from the stage that Lil Wayne would perform from.  After a few friendly handshakes and hellos I made my way on foot to where the action was.  It was time to get uncomfortable and a little sun burnt.  I’ve got to do better about remembering my bald spot next time.

Had we thought about it, we may have chosen a different route to the VIP deck as we encountered a different type of traffic jam – of the variant liking to packed sweaty bodies of hostile spectators awaiting their acclaimed performer, refusing to move or make way for the “camera man.”

“Take my picture,” said one.  I hesitantly complied waiting for someone to snatch my pass and push his way through the crowd. I really was helpless, but I finally made my way up to the pavilion that served as a gateway to the Very Important Person area.  I was apparently a very important person today, well at least for a little while.

“He’s with me,” said a friend as my credentials were questioned.  Security was tight, and cops were everywhere.  I should have fit right in, it seemed like everyone on staff had tons of tattoos on their arms.  Maybe I don’t have enough.

Most of the time at events like this, I get free reign.  I can usually go where ever I want, but today was a little different.  I was limited because of the sheer size of the crowd.  I guess I could have journeyed deep into the depths of the ocean of people had I been brave enough, but I admit, I liked the security of the Press Box.  To say I was nervous and a little scared was an understatement; I don’t do too well in large crowds.

Everywhere I turned, spring breakers were drinking from bottles, cans, cups, beer bongs and just about anything else that would not leak.  Some were adorned in apparel made from alcohol paraphernalia, and others wore next to nothing at all.  There were girls on the shoulders of men and patterns shaved into the sides of heads.  Everyone, it seemed, had tattoos and one guy I saw even had a collection of very painful looking Branding marks.

I was able to travel freely up and down a boardwalk that led from the VIP deck and back stage up until about thirty minutes before the first performer came on.  “In about 10 minutes, you can’t go past this point,” said one MTV crew member.  “No worries, man,” I replied, “just tell me what I can and can’t do, I’m just taking pictures.”  I was told that the rules are only enforced by MTV but governed by the contracts they have with the performers.

The crowds were getting anxious and security and other staff were passing out waters and other non-alcoholic drinks to all those that asked in an effort to keep who they could hydrated.  I was told to help myself, so I did, to an ice-cold water in a tiny little bottle.

I was actually surprised security was able to keep everyone contained as well as they did.  Everywhere I looked, it appeared as if more spring breakers could spill over a barricade at any moment.  “You have to get off the rail,” said one member of the security staff, “if it falls, it may knock them all down in this row.”

As the crowd began to roar, I returned to the comfort and safety of the VIP deck.  “You can’t be up here,” said a security guy.  “What?”  I showed him my credentials.  “You have to leave, NOW.”  “What?!?, Why??”  “Don’t make me call security.”  “Ok, I’m leaving.”  There was a mix up and MTV was freaking out.  Turns out, the guy that was kicking me out was a friend of a friend, and he was following orders based on a huge miscommunication during a very roudy and chaotic time.  The crowd was loud and there were apparently too many chiefs.  All the media got kicked out, everyone with a camera.  “Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll hook you up.”  Minutes later, I was on the roof with the promo guys that helped put the whole show together, looking down on the crowd that I was so glad to leave behind.

I was told no less than three times that the roof was the best seat in the house.  I saw no chairs, and I was hot as the sun beat down on me and the black roof cooked me from the feet up.  What am I complaining about, it was only 75 outside – that’s nothing compared to what it could be.

From there I could see everything and would have done just about anything for a sweet telephoto lens, but oh well, perhaps someday when I have more money, or at least some money at all.

Lil Wayne was late, and the crowd was getting ancy.  People were screaming, waving their arms at the opening act as a small crowd congregated around the 26 year old’s tour bus.  From my vantage, I could see the security detail trying to figure out how to get Wayne in with as little exposure to the open crowds as possible.  They moved the bus as close to the door as possible.

With the roar of the crowd, Lil Wayne burst out of his tour bus door and quickly ran inside with his posse in tow and quickly made it to the stage to put on an energetic performance.  The mood of the crowd instantly changed when his appearance was made known.  Wayne took no delay from his bus exit to begin his performance, immediately dancing across the stage to the rhythmic beat of what was surely one of his hot singles.

I didn’t stay for the whole show, I’d had my fill.  The experience was enough to carry me home.  The energy was overflowing and the crowd was getting what they came for.  With thousands, or indeed tens of thousands in attendance this free concert could surely be categorized as a success in the heart and spirit of spring break.  The sand was down there, the beach was warm and the kids were having fun.  That’s what its all about, right?

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