Merchants report profitable Spring Break
Port Aransas merchants are reporting stout business from Spring Break, even though the holiday was shorter than usual and included a couple of days of rain.
Clear, warm weather throughout much of the week accounted for part of the success, business owners said.
Most years, some Texas schools release students one week, while other schools are out the following week. But this year, nearly all of the schools in the state were out in a single week: The week of March 15-19.
The big concentration of revelers kept workers in the tourism industry here hopping.
“It was an extreme challenge this year, because what normally would be two weeks was squeezed into one week,” said Mike Hall, co-owner of the Family Center IGA grocery store.
“It put pressure on staff,” said Jim Triplett, managing director at Condominium Consulting and Management Services, or CCMS, which runs 10 properties, including eight condominiums in Port Aransas.
“But, I think, in the end, we would rather have all at one time rather than spread out, because our history has been that the first week has never been a really heavy week,” Triplett said. “So, I kind of like it concentrated in one week.”
CCMS properties Sandcastle, La Mirage, Aransas Princess and Island Retreat exceeded 2009 Spring Break occupancy, Triplett said.
Ferry vehicle counts show the kind of surge in traffic that Spring Break produces.
Just before Spring Break, during the 10- day period of Feb. 26 to March 7, ferries carried some 60,894 vehicles back and forth between Harbor Island and Mustang Island, according to Felix Trevino, assistant ferry operations manager.
By contrast, during the 10-day Spring Break period of March 12 to March 21, ferries carried 82,720 vehicles, Trevino said.
Numbers provided by the Nueces County Water Control and Improvement District No. 4 reveal something about the demand on services imposed by the influx of Spring Breakers.
The water district pumped 25 percent more water during the Spring Break period of March 13-20 than was pumped March 5-12, said Mark Young, manager of the water district.
The water district handled 53 percent more effluent during Spring Break than the week before, Young said.
“What this tells me is, by the sewer being high, we had a lot of people taking showers,” Young said. “When you take a shower, it all returns to the sewer.”
The two days of rain may actually have helped business, said Greg Villasana, owner of La Playa Mexican Grille. Rain pushes the people who are in town for the week into shops and restaurants, he said.
“They’re not going to go home just because it’s raining one day,” Villasana said.
Fisherman’s Wharf hooked a lot of customers during Spring Break, said Jim Burns, who works at the waterfront business that provides head boat fishing charters.
“It went exceptionally well,” Burns said. “We had a lot of trips go out, caught lots of fish. There were lots of dolphin watches, too. It was really good for us.”
But it would have been better to have that kind of business stretched out over two weeks, Burns said. Fisherman’s Wharf had so many customers that workers had to turn some folks away because boats were full, he said.
Spring Breaks always cause jumps in police activity, and the holiday this year was no different.
From March 15 to 21, the Port Aransas Police Department filed public intoxication charges against 34 people.
The police department charged 11 people with possession of drug paraphernalia, eight with minor in possession of alcohol and five with minors consuming alcohol.