Why is Florida ‘breaking up’ with spring break?

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Why is Florida ‘breaking up’ with spring break?



Fort Lauderdale’s average temperatures are around 80°F (27°C) in March, with ocean temperatures between 21 and 24°C. As such, students flock to the city from all over the country to relax in the sun and surf. They descend on places like Elbo Room, a famous dive bar with ocean views (and a recent Facebook post claiming, “Wait for your socks, because the next three months are going to be a wild adventure of beaches, booze and of bikinis”), and Blondies Sports Bar, where happy hour takes place all day.

And with five weekends in March this year, spring break is just beginning.

The History of Spring Break

The origins of spring break in the United States date back to 1934, when Sam Ingram, a swimming coach at Colgate University in New York, decided his team needed a winter warm-up and went with them in South Florida to train in the more favorable setting of the Las Olas casino. Swimming Pool (now the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center).

“They found it so enjoyable that they started an annual swimming meet, the Collegiate Aquatic Forum,” said travel writer Thomas Swick, who has lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1989. “People who attended inevitably came back to campus and publicized the warm weather and beautiful beaches, and the secret was out.”

Yet it wasn’t until Glendon Swarthout’s 1958 novel Unholy Spring (later changed to Where the Boys Are) that things really took off. An English professor at Michigan State University, Swarthout followed a group of students to Fort Lauderdale over their Easter break so he could observe the debauched rituals he’d heard about — think swimming pool jumping, drinking beer and lots of socializing (then called “playing house”). The book inspired a film two years later, effectively cementing Fort Lauderdale as a spring break magnet, with the Elbo Room (featured in the film) as its unofficial headquarters.

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