As you may know, on August 19th the TDC and CVB will have a community forum to discuss Panama City Beach Spring Break and whether or not marketing funds should be allocated to bolster the annual raucous event. Now, no doubt some of you are rolling your eyes, others are chomping at the bit to bequeath their 2 cents, but after reading many of the comments left after my recent post, I thought it might be a good idea to preface the forum with some possible expectations. The Spring Break topic is the single most polarizing concern on the minds of residents and business owners and often conversations on the topic kindle contentious emotions. To date, all conversations have ended in dialectal stalemates. And it should be noted, the purpose of the forum isn’t to promote or to undermine any particular argument, but is an attempt to find a middle ground in all this. So, what should we expect?
Spring break makes people act crazy…and that’s not just the kiddies coming down for college. Residents get crazy just talking about how breakers destroy everything in their wake. The emotions are so deep-seeded on that topic, that simple conversations can become very, very contentious. It is important that the topic be seen from both sides. Yes, business owners make lots of money and yes, residents are uncomfortable in their own homes. Both perspectives are valid. But losing your cool in a public forum won’t solve any problems. So keep it cool and civil.
No time limits or rules of order will keep people from squeezing every last drop out of their point. But those of you who plan to unleash their carefully written dissertation on why spring break is demonic or why we need spring break economically, trust me, mostly it’s been heard before. The focus of the forum should not be on your spring break experience, good or bad, but on trying to inch our way towards the middle of the road.
I am a huge proponent of individuals being passionate about something. And, to some degree, public forums are supposed to encourage how people truly feel about a topic. These ideals, on which you passionately stand, will on some occasions become full-blown arguments. This is to be expected. It is important, however, that we try to be respectful. If someone breaks down into tears while speaking their view, see it for what it’s worth. I’ve personally witnessed this happen and several audience members rolled their eyes in disdain. This is a topic people do feel very passionate about and as inclusive members in the “community” forum, we should be respectful.
Don’t Expect Answers:
This forum is not meant to stamp out any and all inquiries with answers. In fact, it is the opposite of a Q and A. This forum is for local businessmen and women, residents and even some vacationers to voice their opinion to our governing body. It is a place to speak and to listen. Don’t expect to leave knowing one way or another how everything will turn out because in the end there will not be a spring break final solution. It is more likely you’ll leave with more questions than answers.
Don’t Expect The End of Spring Break:
No matter if every single person in the forum is against spring break, the truth of the matter is, spring break won’t end tomorrow. In fact, spring break won’t ever “end” because as long as Panama City Beach exists the breakers will come. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how you tone it down, we all must understand that putting money into spring break or putting money into a campaign to eradicate it won’t change it much either way. Consider spring break the vacation roach, if you will. It will keep coming back, be it with college kids, families or something different entirely, we just have to figure out a way to live with it the best way we can.
The community forum will be held Wednesday August 19th at City Hall.