Spring Break to end a long, cold, wet winter
Or it could mean Spring Broken.
Most years, some Texas schools release students one week, while other schools are out the following week.
But this year, nearly all Texas schools will be out in one week: The week of March 15-19. That means the weather will be an even bigger factor than usual in whether people hit the beach this Spring Break, some say.
“Boy, if we get weathered out, we lose it all,” said Mike Hall, co-owner of Family Center-IGA. “It’s all or none.”
Among schools to be out March 15- 19 will be the Port Aransas Independent School District, Corpus Christi ISD, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the University of Texas at San Antonio and dozens of other schools around the state.
Port Aransas merchants and city workers already have begun preparations.
City crews have been grading the beach to make sure it’s got a good driving surface, said Interim City Manager Dave Parsons. Big, impassable muddy spots caused by winter rains have mostly dried up.
The city also recently finished installing the last of 82 new portable restrooms at the beach. The new Skid-O-Kans, purchased by the city of Port Aransas, cost $45,920.
Spring Break reservations are increasing with the improving weather, said Jim Triplett, managing director at CCMS – Condominium Consulting and Management Services. CCMS runs 10 properties, including eight condominiums in Port Aransas.
Over the last few weeks, overall reservations were lagging just short of last year for the same period, Triplett said. But, over the period of Feb. 27 to March 1, most CCMS resorts saw increases in reservations. Unique online visits to a Web site run by CCMS went up during the same period.
“Port A travelers watch very closely the weather and make reservations accordingly,” Triplett said. “We have asked the chamber of commerce to push the good weather button for the coming three weeks or so.”
Ann Bracher Vaughan, executive director of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce-Tourist Bureau, said she believes people will come regardless of the weather.
“I think, whether the weather plays or has impact (dictates) whether they’re on the beach or in town, at the shops,” Vaughan said. “If it’s so terribly cold, they’re going to leave the beach at some point.”
Jay Kenigsberg, owner of Seafood and Spaghetti Works, is stocking up on food and drink in anticipation of a jump in business at Spring Break.
While the restaurant likely would serve about 100 dinners on a normal week night and maybe 150 dinners on a weekend night this time of year, those numbers could surge to 350 dinners weeknights and 450 dinners weekend nights during Spring Break, Kenigsberg said.
Those numbers go up even more during the summer, Kenigsberg added. Still, he said, Spring Break is a welcome time.
“We love that it’s coming,” Kenigsberg said. “It’s been a long winter.”
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is working to keep alcohol abuse to a minimum. On Tuesday, March 2, the TABC conducted a “retailers’ workshop” at the Civic Center to show Port Aransas store employees and nightclub workers how to spot fake ID cards, among other things.
TABC also was offering a Manager’s Awareness Program class “to promote the responsible sales and service of (alcoholic) beverages and to help with the voluntary compliance with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code,” according to a news release issued by the Port Aransas Police Department.
Port Aransas police have special plans in place to deal with Spring Break crowds.
While PAPD normally has two cars on city streets, with one officer in each car, that will change during Spring Break, said Chief Scott Burroughs.
During Spring Break, four Port Aransas Police Department cars will be on city streets even during slow periods, Burroughs said, and each car will have two officers inside – one from PAPD and one from another agency.
Other agencies to be helping out will include the Ingleside, Rockport and Aransas Pass police departments.
During heavy periods, eight PAPD vehicles will be patrolling, each with two officers inside, Burroughs said.
“Spring Break is an important time of year in Port Aransas for the local economy,” the chief said. “Fortunately, our officers are well-trained and used to dealing with influxes of crowds.”
The Nueces County Constable’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety also will be on patrol.
Because law enforcement officers probably will arrest more people than usual, the Nueces County Sheriff’s Department will provide a paddy wagon to transport prisoners from the Port Aransas city jail to Nueces County Jail. Normally, Port Aransas police perform that transport in their patrol vehicles.
Burroughs said police will focus on public safety. Issues like noise and traffic congestion will be second on the list.
“We understand people want to come down and let their hair down and be a little rowdy, and we’ll let them be a little rowdy,” Burroughs said. “But when they cross the line from being rowdy to reckless, we have little tolerance for that type of behavior. If they endanger people or damage property, they can expect strict enforcement.”