Warning: Tongue-in-cheek humor here.
This week is spring break, where high school and college students get some time away from their studies and a chance to go on a quick vacation to someplace fun.
A quick look at About.com lists the following hotspots as the best places for co-eds to get their kicks over the holiday: 1) Cancun, Mexico; 2) Rosarito Beach, Mexico; 3) Acapulco, Mexico; 4) Panama City and Miami (tie); 5) South Padre Island, Texas; 6) Negril, Jamaica; 7) Whistler, British Columbia, and Jackson Hole, Wyo. (tie); 8) Nassau, Bahamas; 9) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; 10) Hawaii, Paris and Puerto Rico (tie).
I must say I was surprised that Sandy was not in the top three, much less the top 10. My guess is that's because either we're the best kept secret in spring break history or all of those other towns have enough cash to pay the About.com lady to rank them on her list. It's just a theory, but we in Sandy play fair.
Since we're trying to flex our tourism muscles around here, I think it's high time that we really start to market ourselves as a spring break destination. Sure, endless throngs of inebriated youngsters don't sound all that appealing, but think about what it will do for business. Plus, we'll have unparalleled exposure once MTV brings its cameras and 'VJs' to town.
So what makes a good spring break destination? After carefully studying the top 10, I noticed that certain characteristics emerged. Let me address each one of these criteria in light of how Sandy should be at the top of the destination list.
There must be sun and/or a beach.
Right now, the sun is going to be a tough one. But these days, it's probably a safe bet to tell people that there will be sun during their week in Sandy, at least one day. In the meantime, we have plenty of tanning beds around town. As for the beach, we need to capitalize on our name - Sandy. There's a little room down by the river for people to put beach blankets and coolers and whatnot. We need to call that the 'Sandy Beach,' so we won't be lying when we say we have 'miles of Sandy beaches.' Brilliant.
There must be a lot of young people.
Oh wow, another toughie. This is going to be harder than I thought. Well, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, only 8.3 percent of the population of Sandy is in the 18-to-24 age bracket. But there is a loophole. Almost one-third (30.9 percent) of the population is under the age of 18, which could attract high school spring breakers. Sure, a good chunk of those 18-and-unders are probably elementary school age, but we don't have to tell people that. Once they get here, they'll have fun, young people or not. We just have to get them here.
There must be excellent nightlife.
The closest thing to nightlife I can think of would be over at Sandy's own entertainment hub, Galaxy Game Center, which is open until 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and an hour later during the weekend. After a long day of sunbathing at 'Sandy Beach,' a great way to end the day is going airborne in GGC's bounce house. In all seriousness, if enough people let them know they're coming in advance (and pay a little beforehand), the videogame hub can morph into Club Galaxy. They had a rave there last month. Seriously.
Going somewhere that doesn't require a passport is cool.
If you're from the good ol' USA, you can just drive on in via Route 26. Or, I suppose you could fly in at one of our three area airports if you really want that 'getting away' vacation feeling.
Getting away to another country is cool.
While Sandy is still in the United States, we have a compromise: Take a day trip to Warm Springs. It's on a Native American reservation, which is technically another nation. Problem solved. Plus, there's Kah-nee-ta!
In the case of No. 7, there must be ski facilities.
Ah-ha! Finally, one we don't have to lie about - er, one that is obviously our strong suit. Who needs Whistler-Blackcomb or Jackson Hole? Their snow probably melted already. Mount Hood is where it's at! Good accommodations, decent price, plenty of challenging runs - without all the built-in hype! And all their volcanoes are extinct! Ha!