Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Business

Spring Break Clearwater Beach-style: Sun, fun, beer and dancing

CLEARWATER BEACH — The hung-over rugby team sought a new hotel room.

Nothing fancy. Just enough space for five or so guys who, Tuesday night, had been kicked out of a Tampa La Quinta Inn for throwing far too loud a kegger.

A hotel manager had asked Indiana University student Austin Robbins, 22, six times: Could you guys keep it down? But the juniors and seniors, swilling Bud Select from red Solo cups, had invited girls.

"Wasn't going to happen," Robbins said of the manager's plea for quiet. "We're on spring break."

Wearing an American flag tank top and jean shorts, Robbins drove to Clearwater Beach on Wednesday, where his teammates tossed a rugby ball beside the shimmering water.

"We're definitely staying here tonight," he said. "Not sure where yet, though."

Hundreds of college students wearing neon hats, faux Ray Ban shades and backpacks stuffed with cold drinks dotted Clearwater Beach on Wednesday from Pier 60 to Shephard's Beach Resort, where a DJ spun rap-infused dance music.

March into April is spring break season, and Clearwater Beach, recently named the nation's best beach town by USA Today, is a hot destination for those seeking to shed reality in sunny Florida. Cars with foreign license plates clog the streets. Crowds form outside Hooters and Crabby Bill's seafood restaurant.

"People are out here all day drinking and dancing in the heat, and sometimes things get a little crazy," said Todd Ryan, assistant manager at Shephard's. "We have security on the property because things do happen."

Shephard's, like many waterside lodgings, stays almost constantly booked with college students, he said. Attractions at the hotel include "hot body" and booty-shaking contests.

"We're an entertainment complex," he said.

Sharon Mccloskey, an assistant manager at Wings on Poinsettia Avenue, said the surf shop stays packed with people buying Hello Kitty towels, beer bongs, tie-dyed fringed cover-ups — the bestseller list goes on.

"Anything neon goes really fast," she said. "Hats, T-shirts. You name it."

Karolyn Miller, a 20-year-old junior at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is staying with friends this week at her aunt's Clearwater house.

Sporting a strapless pink bikini, she threw a Frisbee on the beach Wednesday with people she met that morning. Miller, who studies tourism management, doesn't drink. She prefers to avoid alcohol-fueled parties.

"We're down here to have a good time and explore," she said. "We're making new friends and enjoying the weather. Back home was 30 degrees."

Under an orange and white umbrella nearby, about a dozen University of South Florida students sat on beach towels and sipped Bud Light.

Spenser Bahr, who gave his age as 23, drove from his parents' house in Zephyrhills with his friend "Big" Mike Avadikian, 22, blasting Sweet Home Alabama and Fat Bottom Girls.

They drank Jager. They drank Bud Light.

"I'm losing my abs," Avadikian said.

"I'm not," replied Bahr, hitting his stomach.

On the beach, they were far from their accounting and communications classes, far from the usual responsibilities. They planned to stay the night with three friends in a Howard Johnson Inn and Suites room. Drink more beer. Dance at Shephard's.

"And," Avadikian said, "meet some girls."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

   
Comments
Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

TAMPA –– Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to ask embattled jobs center leader Ed Peachey to either resign or face termination over concerns the agency inflated job placement numbers with the state. Chairwoman Sandy Murman said commis...
Updated: 1 hour ago
CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CLEARWATER — The heads of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards will hold emergency meetings in the coming days to consider firing president and CEO Edward Peachey. Jack Geller, board chairman of CareerSource Pinellas, and Dick Peck, chairman of ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Pete's World Liquors sign will live on at new home

St. Pete's World Liquors sign will live on at new home

A local landmark for a half century isn't coming down for good.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Investor calls for Bloomin’ Brands to let Outback Steakhouse stand alone

Investor calls for Bloomin’ Brands to let Outback Steakhouse stand alone

TAMPA — A second activist investor is calling for a big shake-up at Bloomin’ Brands Inc. In a letter to Bloomin’s CEO, Barington Capital Group, a New York-based investment firm, urged the Tampa-based restaurant conglomerate to let ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Uber unrolls new pool service that could drastically cut fare

A new way to Uber is coming to Florida, but the "Express Pool" feature is only rolling out in Miami and seven of other cities to start.That means Tampa Bay will have to wait and see if it will get access to Uber’s latest offering, which links riders ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

A reigning champion for sand and sunshine, Tampa Bay is once again home to what’s been deemed the best beach in the country. Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by the popular travel site TripAdvisor reclaiming the crown tw...
Updated: 8 hours ago
This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

FIELD OF GREEN: COLLARD FESTOn Saturday you can devote your whole day to the beauty of collard greens. Well, that’s the jumping off point. Collards are the "central ingredient" at the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival at St. Petersburg’s Historic Deuc...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa Bay homes prices soar by double-digits in January

Tampa Bay homes prices soar by double-digits in January

Home prices soared in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in January, the highest gains in several months. Prices for single family homes also rose in Hernando and Pasco as the shortage of available homes showed no immediate sign of easing. The bay a...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Q: My manager has recently started eating nuts at her desk, which is located right next to mine. Unfortunately, I have a serious nut allergy, so any contact with them could produce a life-threatening reaction. Even foods which contain tiny pieces of ...
Published: 02/20/18
Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

TAMPA — More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port. More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.It was the fir...
Published: 02/20/18