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The reality of Spring Break in Tampa Bay? Not so salacious

Once in while, Pinellas County's beaches look like the MTV Spring Break videos of yore — scantily clad women, drunken debauchery and people in their teens or just past them letting loose. But that's just on special occasions.

Unless a party promoter or celebrity brings a massive event to the beaches, it's much more subdued in this neck of the woods. Since Spring Break season began in March, fewer than 60 out-of-towners under 24 have landed in the Pinellas County Jail, records show.

This year's dearth of mayhem stands in contrast to the hyper-violent, orgiastic picture the movie Spring Breakers paints of the beachfront communities.

Even with the fame of Pinellas beaches, local officials suppose we're not as hardcore as we're made out to be.

"It's largely Midwesterners and people from Ontario that come here during March," said Jeff Jensen, a spokesman for the Treasure Island Police Department. "The adult crowd has been really good but not a lot of kids this year."

A 2011 ordinance restricting daytime drinking has effectively killed Spring Break shenanigans at Sunset Beach, one of the few beaches where alcohol is allowed at all in Pinellas County.

"It was mostly to try and curb the cars parked everywhere, public urination, rowdiness and general spring breaker oafishness," Jensen said.

In Clearwater, one of Florida's most famous beaches, Lt. David Dalton can't remember the last time something epic or outlandish happened.

"The things we see here are much the same as when any influx of people come into an area," said Dalton, a 17-year Clearwater Police veteran.

Girls with guns in day-glo bikinis holding up a diner, not so much.

"We mostly get the crimes of opportunity like stolen smart phones and car burglaries, things like that," Dalton said. "It's an interesting fiction (this movie built)."

Double the number of uniformed and undercover officers are assigned to the beaches during the month of March uniformed, Dalton said.

"So that person you're standing next to when you're doing something goofy, could be an officer. You never know," he said.

The biggest worries here are underage drinking, driving under the influence and jumping off a pier.

You'll have to go elsewhere in Florida to hear stories of drunk teens plunging to their death from balconies or anything else extreme.

"The only way people die at the end here is because they're old," Jensen said.

The reality of Spring Break in Tampa Bay? Not so salacious 03/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:40pm]
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