Spring breakers in town this week were treated to some unexpected surprises — frigid water and near freezing temperatures as low as 39 degrees. While it wasn't optimal beach weather, co-eds and teenagers alike found ways to make the most of their stay in Walton County.
High school students, Paige Wehrs and Cecilia Siragusa, from Chicago, opt to go shopping when the beach is too cold to bear. Of course, they said, any weather is better than at home.
"We're trying to find something to do," said Wehrs. "At the very least, it's not snowing."
For the 21-and-over co-eds, keeping warm is part of the fun. University of Tennessee students Hillery Evans and Tegan Ehrenfried said they just take the party inside.
"We just drink more than we should," said a giggly Evans with a cup of coffee in hand.
The UT students have vacationed along Scenic 98 before. This year, they said virtually the whole junior and sophomore class are here too. Playing drinking games with a large group makes staying inside much more fun, Evans said.
On the beach, bathing suits were rare Tuesday, as most breakers wore long sleeved shirts and shorts in the sand and along the Scenic 98 sidewalks.
"I just want to say to those girls in bikinis, 'I know you're cold,'" said Lindey Kitchens from University of Alabama. "It's funny, because when they walk by, you can see their chill bumps."
Staying warm on the beach means keeping spirits high and in plentiful supply.
"We use an alcohol blanket to stay warm — it's that warm feeling you get from drinking," explained Aly Lehmann.
Piling out of their car parked in front of Whale's Tail, Lindey and friends were all clad in long sleeves. If the beach gets too cold, they already have a plan B ready.
"We'll have a darty — a party during the day," said Lehmann.
"And boys — boys always keep me warm," added Kitchens.
The beaches in front of Pompano Joes and Whale's Tail were far less crowded compared to previous weeks. There were less tents and flags, but the Walton County Sheriff's Office has not wavered their stance on patrolling. A handcuffed breaker in a tank top was being escorted from the beach as two young men walked the opposite way hauling a 70-quart cooler to the sand.
"The cold weather is keeping them at bay. Now all the traffic is on 98," said Deputy Keith Parsons of the breakers. "By this time last week, it'd be in full swing."
For Kyle Styles, a junior at University of Alabama, the cold weather is the least of his problems. Styles and his friend have ventured to Walton County with no lodging plans and are depending on the kindness of strangers to take them in.
"You think the cold weather would ruin our spring break, but it hasn't," he said while standing outside the Shell station. "We've met some fine young women. You just gotta jump into it. Get good coffee, good spirits, and good, warm clothes."