Thousands of high school and college-age people, plus many other vacationers, are heading for southern Utah this Easter weekend as part of a spring break that is becoming something of a tradition. Unfortunately, some aspects of this practice need to be changed.
There's nothing wrong with a celebration of spring, with enjoying warm weather in the south. Beaches, sand dunes, and small towns will be crowded by peaceful, law-abiding citizens, and local businesses in those areas will do an enormous business.But there is more to it than that. The break increasingly has caused problems for law enforcement.
For a minority, but still too many, the weekend - stretched by a four-day school break - has meant leaving home and throwing off adult supervision in favor of partying, alcohol, wild behavior and even clashes with police.
In some respects, it's like Fort Lauderdale West, without the ocean. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has acquired a reputation as a gathering place for teens and young adults at Easter and a reputation for riotous behavior. Other places such as Palm Springs, Calif., experience the same problems.
The situation along Utah's southern border is not nearly on the same scale, but it seems to get worse each year. Last year in St. George, large quantities of alcohol were seized from juveniles, 200 arrests were made and 238 traffic citations issued. Police have set up a temporary drunk tank in St. George this year to hold unruly juveniles.
Some parents complained last year about harsh treatment of their offspring by police. Rights must be respected, but officers cannot let the teens run wild in the name of having a good time; that would be asking for even more problems.
Most people will behave themselves. It's unfortunate that a relative few cause so many problems. Law enforcement officers should act swiftly at the first sign of trouble. Rowdies shouldn't be allowed to spoil the situation for everyone else.