Welcome Spring Breakers
Port Aransas merchants are stocking up with truckloads of extra food and beverages.
The city is even sending out a street sweeper and ramping up mosquito control efforts.
It all means one thing: Spring Break is coming.
The big week is actually a nine-day period, stretching from Saturday, March 10, to Sunday, March 18. At least 50 colleges around the state and Coastal Bend area school districts let out that week. Those schools include all campuses of the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems and the public school districts in Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Gregory- Portland, Aransas Pass, Austin and San Antonio.
Judging from past experience, tens of thousands of folks could flock to Port Aransas on any given day during Spring Break, especially if it’s a weekend and the weather is good.
At press time, the National Weather Service was predicting that a cool front would pass through late in the evening of Friday, March 9, or early Saturday. Forecasters said they expected a 40 to 50 percent chance of showers and a high in the upper 60s on Saturday.
Chances of rain will end Sunday and Monday.
“Monday through Wednesday next week look like probably warming conditions,” said Jason Runyen, a forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi.
Several Port Aransas merchants said they’re feeling optimistic that it will be a profitable Spring Break.
CCMS Resorts is seeing advance bookings that are ahead of last year’s, according to Jim Triplett, managing director of the business.
“And last year was a good year for us,” Triplett said.
CCMS manages 12 condominiums and other lodging businesses. Seven of the properties are in Port Aransas, and the rest stand a bit farther down State Hwy. 361 – the Island Road.
But there still are “quite a few” openings at hotels, motels and condominiums around town, said Ann Bracher Vaughan, president and CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce- Tourist Bureau.
Mike Hall said he was “cautiously optimistic” that this Spring Break will be a good one.
“Based on what’s been happening since Jan. 1 to now, business has been pretty good,” said Hall, co-owner of the Family Center IGA. “I don’t have any reason to believe Spring Break won’t follow suit.”
Expressing similar sentiments was Phyllis Layne, owner of the Crazy Cajun restaurant.
“I think, if it’s like the last couple of months, we’re going to be really busy. Business has been up. Last weekend was a really great weekend, even with the rain,” Layne said, referring to the weekend of Feb. 25-26.
Businesses around town are loading up on stock and hiring extra employees to get ready for the holiday.
Triplett said CCMS probably will bring in at least 50 more employees to help with housekeeping and front-desk chores at its properties, which include 1,400 units.
Hall said his grocery store has been building up its stock of beach-related merchandise for more than a month now. That means more ice chests, lawn chairs, beach towels, beverages, sun block and more.
Much of the stock originates from overseas, and the distributor is in Houston, Hall said.
“You want to bring (the merchandise) in a little early to make sure it’s here in time.”
Layne said the Crazy Cajun also is preparing.
“We’re getting extra supplies in, kind of getting the spring cleaning done, with new tables and chairs for the outdoor seating,” she said.
Layne estimated that her restaurant stocks up on about 75 percent more food and drink than what the business normally would have on hand this time of year.
At Raggdoll boutique, owner Michele Nicholson said she’s increasing her store’s offerings and changing its tune, somewhat, for Spring Breakers.
“It’s a different clientele,” Nicholson said. “I think you have to have really well-priced merchandise, because it’s a younger crowd that comes through, and so we have to have something they can afford.” City public works employees have groomed the beach and the beach road, according to Deputy City Manager Dave Parsons. The beach road is looking easily drive- able, with no soft spots where drivers might get stuck. That’s partly because city workers have graded the roadway, and partly because recent rains have packed the sand.
City workers also have fixed broken wooden bollards and replaced missing ones. Several lifeguard stands and additional portable restrooms have been set up.
Depending on what time of day it is, two to four lifeguards will be on duty on Port Aransas beaches during Spring Break, according to Gary Mysorski, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The city has been conducting mosquito-spraying operations only in select parts of town in recent months, but a more extended campaign is taking place now, in anticipation of Spring Break, Parsons said.
The city hasn’t used any street sweeping services for the past few years, but it started again during the last week of February, Parsons said. City officials have budgeted for six months of street sweeping, from March to September, to keep curbside gutters clear and make the city more attractive for the tourist season.
Getting sand, vegetation and debris out of the curbside gutters keeps those materials from blocking drainage.
The Port Aransas Police Department also is gearing up for Spring Break.
“We will be putting officers on 12-hour shifts, with no scheduled days off, beginning Friday, the ninth,” said Police Chief Scott Burroughs. “In addition, we contract with other local law enforcement agencies to supplement our ranks. Most of our vehicles will be two-officer units, with the primary officer being from the Port Aransas Police Department and the backup officer being a contract officer from another agency.”
In addition to officers from PAPD and the Nueces County Precinct 4 constable’s office, agencies providing help in Port Aransas will include the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Police will stagger their shifts to provide more coverage during peak Spring Break activity periods, Burroughs said.
“Because the shifts overlap, we always have units patrolling, even during the shift changes,” the chief said.
(Questions? Com- ments? Contact Dan Parker at ( 361) 749- 5131 or email@example.com.)