Fort Lauderdale used to be the spring break capital of the world and still draws a hearty crowd, and Miami has Winter Music Conference coming up in two weeks, but if you're a college kid making Palm Beach County your destination, ain't no shame in it.
Partiers have grown a boat/float party on Peanut Island into an annual celebration called Floatopia -- and yesterday's edition was massive. It resulted in a strong response from law enforcement, several fights, a few hospitalizations, and two flipped vessels... but only one boating-under-the-influence arrest and no arrests for underaged drinking. Travelocity rankings put South Florida as the number-one spring break destination this year. Experts from Visit Florida say that this year is on track to shatter spring tourism records, thanks in part to a snowy winter in much of the north. Drug-related violence in Central America has tempered travel to Mexican cities that were once spring break hot spots, though Cancun remains on Travelocity's top ten list.
According to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, multiple units from its force patrolled the island -- Marine Unit, Aviation Unit, Communications, Reserve Unit, Road Patrol, Volunteer Marine Unit -- with help from West Palm Beach Police Department, West Palm Beach Fire Rescue, Riviera Beach Police Department, Riviera Beach Fire Rescue, Fish & Wildlife Commission, and the U.S. Coast Guard Station Lake Worth.
Spokesperson Therese Barbera said in a media release that numerous citations were given out and that several people were taken to hospitals, including two for near-drownings. "We also had three (3) boating accidents... Two (2) of the boating accidents included overturned vessels with people in the water," she said.
Floatopia seems to be an informal, rather than commercial, name for the event; Floatopia.com doesn't lead to an active site, and the term "Floatopia" has been used for similar parties in Miami and Hawaii.
Partiers shared their impressions on Twitter and Instagram:
— Ari❁ (@arielraboin) March 10, 2014
I bought a tube just for floatopia and not even 10 minutes of being there I lost it
— Marissa Starr (@MarissaStarr44) March 9, 2014
Guys at floatopia were so disgusting I get you were drunk but like can you not try to rape me thanks.
— JE$$ (@jessicalyynnnn) March 9, 2014
— Dexter Lee Holmes Jr (@DexterLeeHolmes) March 9, 2014
Floatopia is the best thing that's ever happened to me
— Christina Costa (@ChristinaCost21) March 9, 2014
— Kendyl Blakeney (@KendylBlakeney) March 9, 2014
Here's more of the Floatopia madness via Instagram.
Send story tips to Deirdra.Funcheon@BrowardPalmBeach.com
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