I've talked to a lot of people about Crab Island and I get one of two responses every time. The first is that Crab Island is an eyesore and they want it cleaned up. The second is that Crab Island is a necessity for tourism and they have no problem with it.
I'm inclined to agree with the latter.
I've seen your advice to tourists on Facebook. I’ve Googled “Things to do in Destin” and Crab Island is always on the list of recommendations.
I don't like crowds or rowdy people but I'm not going to let my personal preferences get in the way of business owners making a living. That would be like me going to a local wing restaurant during football season and blaming the owner for the drunk people sitting at the table across from me.
Many of you have said alcohol is the culprit for recent drownings or for making Crab Island go "downhill" and that the business owners are to blame for the alcohol. This logic makes no sense to me. Family-friendly restaurants all across America serve alcohol but you don't blame them for a drunk driver. So why blame places like Reef Burger or Waterworld for the actions of humans?
A few weekends ago, some friends and I went to Crab Island. I had never been and, from what I had heard, I expected to see stripper poles, lewd behavior and maybe even an appearance from "Girls Gone Wild." But instead, I saw families having fun on floats shaped like chickens, adults running and falling off the inflatable obstacle courses and teenagers trying to learn how to paddleboard.
I went to one of the floating restaurants and saw the free alcohol signs plastered on the walls, but no one was asking for any. Customers ordered burgers, fries and soft drinks, but no alcohol. On my walk/swim back to the boat, I saw a few groups of intoxicated people but it was a result of alcohol they had brought themselves, not because of the alcohol the restaurants give away.
Here's how I see it. Running off the businesses on Crab Island won't change anything. People are still going to go and take their own alcohol. Multiple boat rental companies in the area have specific names or marketing campaigns directed toward Crab Island. People all over the country know Crab Island by name.
People are people and sometimes people do stupid things. But don’t blame the hard-working business owners for the mistakes of irresponsible adults. If they aren’t getting drunk on Crab Island, they would be getting drunk on the beach. At least they’re a little more isolated on a submerged island in the middle of the bay.
Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at email@example.com or 315-4353.