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Tracing the history of Spring Break to its 1930’s roots

With spring break approaching, students are mentally checking out of their classes and daydreaming about their upcoming vacation. While many are going back home to see family and friends, many University students are packing their bags and heading for a trip they will never forget such as traveling outside the U.S.

“My family and I are going on a cruise to a bunch of countries in the Caribbean for two weeks,” sophomore Jimmy Dirck said. Other students are visiting popular tourist attractions like junior John Hooper. “I’m going to Disney World for spring break. It will be a good vacation from school,” Hooper said.

Spring break has been the highlight for college students across the U.S. for years, but its origins are widely unknown to most students today.   If it weren’t for a swim coach, spring break would not be close to what it is today. Colgate University’s 1936 swim coach, Sam Ingram, took his swim team from Hamilton, N.Y. to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  to practice during their winter intermission.

When Ingram realized this experienced strengthened his team, he decided to make this trip a yearly event for the team. Fort Lauderdale saw this as an opportunity to make a lot of money and began hosting the first College Coaches’ Swim Forum in 1938. At the time, the Sea Breeze Hotel was opened right on the beach. A couple of alcoholic drinks on the beach made up the perfect scene for college students, which lead to a large number of students traveling to Fort Lauderdale during their spring break.

Time magazine recognized the phenomenon and established Fort Lauderdale as “Spring Break Headquarters.” In 1960, the movie Where the Boys Are came out in theaters and created a legend throughout the nation. Every college student in the U.S. wanted to be at Fort Lauderdale while other Floridian cities quickly started catching on. Daytona Beach started to advertise their city as the perfect spring break destination, soon becoming one of the most popular cities for students to visit on their spring break.

By the ’90s, spring break wasn’t just for college students. High School students started looking into vacationing, along with nostalgic young professionals who wanted to taste what it was like to be in college again. Panama City, Fla. and South Padre Island, Texas became new hot spots. As students yearned to skirt the legal drinking age stateside, spring break went international with Cancun, Mexico and the Bahamas instantly becoming popular destinations.

Today, nothing has changed. When spring break rolls around, numerous students pack their bags and head to their favorite partying destination. Spring break is for relaxation and the destinations keep increasing as the years go by. Even though the break is usually a week long, that is all the students need to recharge their batteries for the rest of their spring semester.

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