Bars Close early in Panama City

Panama City, Fla. is where all the fun goes down during spring break for  students across the country. This year, the hours of fun may decrease. Bars will now stay open until 2 a.m.

Panama City officials are in the process of voting to extend the bar hours back to 4 a.m. during spring break of 2015. 

The city’s previous closing time for the past years was around 4 a.m. leaving the students to be in bars until early morning. The commission decided that bars should close down at 2 a.m.

Considering that many students under 21 will be mixed in with students or young adults who are 21 and older, having bars continue to close at 4 a.m. leaves people wondering is this safe for college students and are they responsible enough?

According to Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, their agents arrest more people on the beach during this time.

Raven Clay, a 23-year-old graduate student from Detroit, Mich. said, “I will definitely be in attendance for spring break. I just hope they are carefully looking at individual I.D.’s that are presented because many students have fake ones.”

Charnee Davis, a sophomore music education student from Atlanta, Ga. said, “This is my sophomore year and I have never been to Panama before. I heard it was the turn-up spot so I don’t plan on sleeping although I am only 20. I expect to experience spring break like everyone else has with their friends away from home.”

Bay County’s police department said Panama City Beach police usually experience more arrest during spring break.

Michale Canaday, the manager of  Harpoon Harry’s in Panama City, said he would like the bars to stay open as they were before. The closing time for over thirty years have always been until 4 a.m.

 "This March all restaurants may have to close at 2 a.m. not sure why,” said Canaday. 

Canaday stated that there was an ongoing discussion as to if the bars were going to stop closing at 4 a.m.

Questions are still being answered as to will this stay like this for the rest of the year, or is this only for spring break in March. 

“This could have a negative impact on my business, financially, because I usually generate more money after the clubs close or after everyone leaves the beach and have nothing left to do,” said Canaday.  

While many are concerned about “spring breakers’” safety, Eddie Baugh, manager of the Taxi shuttle and service loc., said taxi’s generate safety for the kids, since majority of them will be drinking excessively.

Baugh is concerned for the economic opportunity that may be overlooked. “Supposedly there are less taxi companies that work the beach, therefore drivers may decide to go to other companies who will serve after 2 a.m,” said Baugh. “Reducing the number automatically reduce hours for taxi drivers and any other businesses that work and generate money late night.”

This is something different for Panama City Beach and for students who have traveled to Panama for their spring break-years past. 

The commission will do a final vote Feb. 24.