Businesses welcome NMB senior week; public safety works to make - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Businesses welcome NMB senior week; public safety works to make safer environment

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you've been in North Myrtle Beach in June you may have noticed a lot of high school aged kids, everywhere.  It's Senior Week, considered an annual 'rite of passage' when high school graduates come for a week to spend some time with friends before heading to college.

What sounds like a crazy week for teenagers, is actually a welcomed celebration for area businesses.

"We wake up, we had breakfast, we went to the store to get a bathing suit and a hat…beach go to dinner and go out," Senior Week attendee Kayla Giddy said.  She's here with about 100 of her closest friends from North Carolina.  She described Senior Week as something she and her friends have been looking forward to for years.

The teenagers may spend their days on the beach, but they spend their money in local eateries for meals and buy local merchandise at shops close enough to walk to.  Giddy was wearing a newly bought bathing suit and hat from a local store, she said.

North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism George DuRant said the kids are welcome every year, and they bring invaluable business to the area.  Almost all of the rental homes are booked with the summer season price tag. The teenagers find a way to make the nice homes affordable.  Senior Week-goer Ben Fox said he is in a rental home with 22 other students, and they split the cost.

DuRant said the teens bring fun and fresh vibes, and the city strives to provide a safe and fun atmosphere for them and other student groups visiting each year.

A entire month of Senior Week means thousands of kids bringing their consistent business to locals.  Senior Week is a decades-old tradition, not expected to end any time soon.  Giddy described this week as "the time of her life" and her first time without her parent's watchful eye.

North Myrtle Beach Public Safety brings out their Alcohol Enforcement Team year-around, but the team of officers aims to spread awareness about the dangers of underage drinking.  The team is called AET for short and develops relationships with Senior Week-goers before they get started. 

"AET was actually really nice, which was alcohol reinforcement team.  They came and talked to us and said 'I understand y'all are 18.  You all are adults now.  Like, be safe, take care of each other and just, don't be stupid,'" Fox said.

He explained officers visited the home he and his friends are staying at, introduced themselves, told a few stories of young adult trips gone wrong while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and exchanged phone numbers 'just in case.'

"And I mean, we're gonna listen to him.  He gave me his card, if things happen, we're going to call him," Fox stated.

Giddy agrees.  She said she feels safer knowing the officers are watching out for them, and go out of their way to form a relationship to make the students feel comfortable asking for help.

Since June 1st, 23 young adults ages 16-19 have been arrested for alcohol violations in North Myrtle Beach.  Many are there for Senior Week.  The most common offense was driving with an open container in the car.

The North Myrtle Beach police chief said the department does not have the time or resources to arrest every young adult for an alcohol offense.  AET was brought in to educate and advocate for smarter behavior, first giving the teens the knowledge to make the smarter decision when the time comes.

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