Cold keeps spring breakers off Crescent Beach
But warmer weather for rest of week should change things
Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 11:30 p.m.
CRESCENT BEACH — There wasn't a cloud in the sky over Crescent Beach on Wednesday, halfway through spring break for Alachua County school students.
And if it were 20 or 30 degrees warmer, there might have been many more students out in the sunshine.
The beach was deserted except for a few ambitious dog-walkers and 10 high school students, who tossed a football around in the stiff wind.
“We're trying to enjoy the beach in the 40s,” said Ethan Pata, a 14-year-old Gainesville High freshman who visited the beach Wednesday with two carloads of friends.
The teenagers made the 75-mile trip from Gainesville to take part in an annual tradition: spring break at the beach.
Each year, Alachua County students and many of their parents trek to Crescent Beach — the students to soak up some sun and enjoy the week off from their studies, the parents to keep an eye on the students.
On Wednesday, though, a yellow flag signaling rough waters snapped straight out from its pole in the wind, and the high temperature barely scraped 60 degrees.
Siyah Yongue, a 14-year-old Eastside High freshman, stood shivering with a beach towel wrapped around her neck like a scarf.
Yongue and the other students said they were surprised to be the only handful of people out on the beach.
Lorenzo Miranda, a 15-year-old GHS sophomore, said he expected the weather to improve after they arrived.
“We thought it was going to warm up,” he said.
A competition struck up — boys against girls — about who was braver. It ended with two of the girls diving into the chilly water.
“We had to show the guys that we're tougher than them,” said Jenna Van Sciver, also a GHS freshman, who stood shivering on the beach, clad only in a bikini, with salt water dripping from her long blonde braid.
She went in the water once.
“Oh God,” Van Sciver, 14, said. “I was in so much pain.”
Van Sciver's classmate Tori Cameron, 15, said she came to the beach on Saturday and was staying in a nearby condo for the week. The girls had plans to retire indoors and order a pizza when they could no longer take the cold and the wind.
They said they'd seen other kids, sporting Buchholz High School and P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School attire, holed up in a nearby condo's hot tubs earlier.
Tori said she's visited St. Johns County beaches for years. Her dad used to go to Crescent Beach when he was a student in Gainesville.
While there was a shortage of students on the beach Wednesday, there was plenty of traffic headed over the Bridge of Lions into downtown St. Augustine. Families and tourists packed the downtown area.
Local police said they hadn't seen much activity at the beach since spring break began.
“There's just nobody out on the beach on days like today,” said Daniel Maynard, an Alachua County sheriff's deputy and Westwood Middle School resource officer who was on duty at Crescent Beach.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office sent 16 officers this year to help the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office with beach patrol.
Sgt. Steve Briggs, a St. Johns County law enforcement beach coordinator, said the officers were split into two eight-person shifts that work four days each. They used SUVs, ATVs and other vehicles to patrol about 42 miles of beach and look out for underage drinking.
Alachua County has sent officers to assist St. Johns County in spring break patrols for about 17 years, Briggs said.
“We really count on Alachua S.O.,” he said.
Police said they haven't had any incidents so far. Maynard and Briggs said that could change as the weather warms up later this week.
At night, police check in with general and property managers at condominium complexes for any illegal parties or activities.
Shannon Lake, general manager at Beacher's Lodge Oceanfront Suites, said she and her staff had the busiest month in years with sold out rooms.
“Alachua County is always our busiest spring break group,” she said. “Whenever their spring break happens, we're busy. That's all we're seeing right now.”
Meanwhile, other condominiums haven't seen much business from the high school students.
Tori Pellicer, administrative assistant for The Ocean Gallery condominium complex, said snowbirds occupied most of her complex's rooms.
“We haven't seen that many kids,” she said.
Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.