Clash of the ages? Snowbirds and spring-breakers overlap

Savannah Chastain
While the weather may be warmer than where most of the Northern snowbirds are visiting from, they warmed up Friday morning at the Destin Community Center with a shuffleboard tournament.

As a spring break destination for college students throughout the Southeast and a snowbird getaway for Northerners, the breakers and the birds share the beaches for a few weeks every year.

Without fail, with the ides of March comes a great influx of youth to the Emerald Coast.

So how do they co-exist?

Bob Carson, of Ontario, and his wife, Gail, have been wintering in Destin for 14 years. The couple, unlike most snowbirds that fly the coop when the spring breeze arrives, always lingers through the end of March.

“We don’t have too many problems,” Bob said of the younger spring break crowd. “It’s really fun to see some of them; they get things going really well.”

“There are lots of people around that don’t have grey hair,” Gail added.

For the most part, the younger crowd is respectful and friendly towards them, Bob said, and the condo management keeps noise levels down very well.

“It doesn’t bother us that much,” said Gail, “there are some rowdy ones but kids are kids.”

The biggest change Gail noticed is the traffic, but she explained she mostly avoids that issue simply by planning activities in the mornings.

“At the hours we go, it’s different than them,” she said. “They’re not up in the morning, so you just kind of reverse everything.”

“We’re at the other end of the beach from where the spring breakers come anyway,” said Bob, who further noted that “as long as they don’t get out of hand,” he doesn’t mind the college kids’ ruckus.

So if it’s not the youth that run the snowbirds out, why the great exodus? Ted Gardner of Pensacola, who frequents Destin to coordinate snowbird bridge games explained, “The local business people tend to want to pay homage to the college kids and raise the rates.”

Sigrid Aeschleman, publicity director for the Destin Snowbird Club, told The Log that March 1 marks the beginning of spring rates in Destin.

“We would love to stay through March, but the rent quadruples,” this Illinois resident said.  “It kind of shoots us out the door.

They get for a week what we pay for a month,” she added.

Jackie Messina, a snowbird from New Hampshire is considering moving to the Destin area, and she wasn’t sure what to expect from the spring breakers. Her son, who is in the Air Force, and family live locally, which is why Messina flew south this year.

Messina’s family is even getting in on the spring break fun.

 “My grandson is coming to Panama City for spring break,” she said, “and he said, ‘Yeah Grandma, I might come down and visit you while I’m there,’…Sure!”


Some of the colleges on spring break starting March 1 are Rice University, Tulane, University of Central Florida, the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University.