Vol 6 No. 26 - March 22, 2006

Island a welcome respite for
some spring-breakers
ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Fort Lauderdale was once the hot spot for students on spring break from college, and Daytona Beach, Panama City and Clearwater have all had their turns. Now the cool place for warm weather is South Beach, according to a group of kids from the University of Georgia in Athens.

So what are they doing in Bradenton Beach?

"We wanted something low-key after mid-terms," says Alex Hendershot. "Some place to clear our minds."

Unlike breakers who throng to the shoulder-to-shoulder crush of traditional spring break beach cities, Hendershot and eight of his friends specifically sought a spot without crowds and came up with Bradenton Beach.

The spring break bunch: Splitting a hotel room nine ways makes it easy to afford the average $176-a-night room rates on Anna Maria Island. These University of Georgia
students enjoyed the laid-back pace of Bradenton Beach last week before heading off to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day. From bottom to top are Nadia Farra, Lauren Cochran, Kathleen Sheridan, Mary Lewis, Mike French, Daniel Cammardella, Alex Hendershot, Matt Schultz and
James Eagan.

Nadia Farra went online and found a two-bedroom condominium on the Island Vacation Properties website.

"We didn’t know how else to find it" other than the Internet, Kathleen Sheridan says.
The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau does not advertise directly to college students, nor does it track how many visit the beaches, CVB Marketing and Public Relations Assistant Michelle Stewart said.

The students, who met in a dormitory and now live in the same apartment complex in Athens, think the small condo is "awesome," even though it means several of them sleep on the floor.

Compared to dorm life, "This is luxury," Daniel Cammardella says.
"As long as it’s on the beach, that’s what we wanted," Sheridan says. "And not more than a 10-hour drive."

A photograph on the Internet of the blue water in front of the condo is what convinced the group to snap it up.

The photograph, however, was taken before the now-rusted beach renourishment pipe was installed last year.

"It’s a good place to sit," shrugs Cammardella.

Seaweed in the water and a cool Gulf temperature are likewise no obstacles to the group, most of whom are from northern states.

Even the traffic jams don’t get the students down. Compared to Athens, near Atlanta, traffic here is nothing, Hendershot says.

"It feels so good to go to a place over a bridge," he said. "You just drive over it and you feel better. We got something we didn’t expect."

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