DESTIN — Maureen Dierwa, a 71-year-old snowbird from Troy, Michigan, sat on her towel on the beach near the June White Decker beach access on Monday afternoon, an open book near her feet.

The sun was shining, her nails were freshly painted and a couple of 20-somethings with fraternity letters on their neon T-shirts were playing cornhole and drinking beer nearby.

Dierwa, who has been in Destin for the past five weeks, said the influx of young people over the weekend reminded her of her time as a college student at Western Michigan University in the 1960s, when she and her friends would come to Destin for spring break.

“I can’t really critique them because I did the same things back in the day,” Dierwa said with a grin. “You know, it was wild then too. Lots of drinking and lots of fun. College students have not changed one bit.”

Spring break started off with a bang over the weekend as students from Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and other states descended on the Emerald Coast to kick off the first round of what is expected to be a five-week-long spring break season. At around mid-day Monday, the Back Porch area in Destin was crowded with approximately 200 people, most of whom appeared to be college students, sitting beach chair to beach chair, drinking and playing football on the shoreline.

At around noon, a group of students from Christian Brothers University in Memphis and the University in Memphis watched as an Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputy arrested a girl for underage drinking a few beach towels over. The girl was approached by the deputy, handcuffed and led away to the booking area.

"It’s a little bit eye-opening,” said Alex Doane. “I’m 21 now but I’m like, ‘Man, that could have been me.’”

“It’s funny because it’s, like, a well-known thing that you can’t drink on the beach (if you’re under 21),” said her friend Alex Vincent.

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Fulghum said the agency started issuing Notice To Appears to people under the age of 21 caught in possession of alcohol on Friday and started enforcing its zero-tolerance, 100 percent arrest policy at noon Monday. Between Friday and Monday, OCSO issued 20 Notice To Appears for underage drinking. Between noon and 2:45 p.m., Monday, when the 100 percent arrests began, deputies arrested 15 people for underage possession of alcohol.

Fulghum said most of the arrests occurred in the Crystal Beach area, between Henderson Beach State Park and the Walton County line.

“Everything is going smooth right now, we haven’t encountered any problems with the way we have conducted business,” Fulghum said. “I think it’s going to be a busy (spring break) because the big schools are coming in at the same time this year. Last year, we had seven weeks of it, so it was spread out a little more, but this year we’ve got a lot of schools coming at the same time.”

He said next week and the last week of March are expected to be the busiest.

In Walton County, 11 people have been arrested for underage possession of alcohol since March 3, according to the Walton County Sheriff's Office. Students from Florida State University, the University of Southern Indiana, East Carolina University and Coastal Carolina University made up the arrests.

In the Frangista Beach area of Walton County, near the Whale’s Tail restaurant, a few groups of students could be seen hanging out, but the beach was relatively empty compared to previous spring breaks.

Maggie Miles, Sara Grace Stagoski, Justin Motroni, Zachary Bachmann and Noah German, a group of students from the University of Memphis, were laying out on the shoreline near the Whale’s Tail. The group said it was their first day on the beach and they were trying to stay away from the crowds.

“The beach is pretty and the water is awesome today,” Miles said.

The group said they planned to lay out on the beach most of their time this week. One thing they didn’t plan on doing was taking a trip to the Walton County Jail.

“No one wants to get arrested,” Stagoski said. “That’s not on our list.”