The move is a response to unruly teenagers and underage drinking concerns in one of South Walton's most popular spring break destinations.
Even if mom and dad say be home by 10 p.m., teens in some of South Walton's Scenic Highway 30A communities will have to head home sooner.
Several communities along 30A have implemented temporary 8 p.m. curfew restrictions for people under the ages of 16, 18 or 21 who are not accompanied by an adult.
The move comes after complaints of unruly teenagers, underage drinking and traffic and mobility problems in some of 30A’s most crowded spring break areas.
Seacrest Beach moved their curfew for children under the age of 16 from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday as a result of a “large increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic and inappropriate behavior during this week’s spring break visit,” according to Seacrest Beach II Homeowners Association Manager Lee Nettles in a statement emailed to the Daily News.
“Our primary focus is to assure the safety and equal enjoyment of our wonderful coastal community by all of our visitors,” Nettles said in the email. "In this regard, we agreed that the earlier 8 p.m. policy for unaccompanied minors would be best for everyone."
In Rosemary Beach, town manager David Bailey said the community followed suit and moved their curfew from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m. for people under the age of 18.
“We have a rule, typically after 10 pm, but during spring break it’s 8 p.m., and it’s for the safety of younger kids, and also to make sure that the town all goes to bed at an appropriate time,” Bailey said.
In Seaside, director of public relations and marketing Lori Leath Smith said the community implemented a 9 p.m. curfew on the beach during spring break 2016, but changed the curfew to 8 p.m. and expanded it to include the town center at the beginning of this year’s spring break. The rule applies only to people under the age of 21 who are unaccompanied by parents.
“What we found a few weeks ago is that people were coming off the beach, but gathering in large groups in town,” she said. “For everyone’s safety, we decided to raise the curfew for those under the age of 21 not with their families to 8 p.m.”
The towns’ individual security teams will enforce the curfews with help from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office when needed. The curfews will return to their normal 10 p.m. times once spring break is over.
Walton County TDC spokeswoman P.J. Loughman said the curfews were implemented in response to underage drinking incidents.
“We are a family-friendly spring break destination, and we of course intend to maintain that reputation,” Loughman said. “The curfew restrictions really appear to be in response to a few isolated incidents of underage drinking, and the communities seem to have imposed curfews to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all concerned.”