Emily Sierra Poertner
After Roanoke’s snowstorm, students are even more excited for spring break, whether it means going up north to get more snow or escaping to Florida for a taste of warm weather. Spring break typically conjures images of sunny beaches and excessive drinking, so where did these stereotypes originate from?
Humans have a long reputation for partying in the spring. Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations celebrated fertility by paying special tribute to Dionysus and Bacchus, their respective gods of wine. But the American celebration traces back to Fort Lauderdale in 1936. Coach Sam Ingram of Colgate College took the swim team there to practice. In subsequent years, the city invited coaches and swimmers to compete over break.
In the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale began to enact new laws to attempt to tame college students. The city raised the drinking age and made having open containers of alcohol illegal. Stricter laws and enforcement in the city caused students to choose different cities. Daytona and Panama City Beach became popular in Florida, while others chose to go abroad to places like Cancun and Jamaica.
Spring break first started influencing pop culture in 1959 with the release of Where the Boys Are. In 1986, MTV first hosted their spring break special in Daytona Beach, which they still host. The event has also attracted unwanted attention from people like Joe Francis. In 1997, Francis started filming Girls Gone Wild, and has subsequently been arrested.
Many colleges, including Roanoke, now encourage alternative spring breaks. Gregg Cassin of Boston College founded the idea of alternative breaks in 1978. He and a group of students raised money to fund a trip to Kentucky, where they worked repairing homes.
While many RC students run off to Florida and other hot spots, some students will go on alternative spring breaks. They are traveling to Eagan, Tennessee to learn about mountaintop removal and participate in service projects.