‘That’s not kids being kids:’ New Smyrna Beach issues curfew to address ‘spring break invasion’

60-day curfew applies to those unaccompanied under 18 and groups of 30 or more

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – New Smyrna Beach City Commission voted Wednesday night to set a 60-day curfew for kids after receiving numerous complaints from residents about the “spring break invasion.”

According to city officials, the curfew is in effect east of Riverside Drive from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and legal holidays. It only applies to the aforementioned groups.

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Residents told the commission “spring breakers” have been running the streets rampant and agitating business owners, like PJ Warner.

Warner said Monday night he was harassed by kids in front of his convenience store on Flagler Avenue.

“The first guy blew pot smoke in my face, the second guy spit in my face, the third guy threw whisky in my face,” Warner said.

Flagler Avenue business owners also brought a long list of complaints to city leaders to Wednesday’s meeting.

Many were happy to see the extra police presence on the avenue come Thursday.

“Today everybody’s beautiful, nice and peaceful, no fighting, no screaming, no nothing. Too many police in here right now so that’s good,” said shop owner Shai Dahan.

Dahan said for as long as he’s had his business here, the crowds had never been as destructive as they were this week.

“A lot of kids fighting here even, across the street, they broke my gate in the back,” Dahan said.

John Kotsonis, who owns The Beacon restaurant, said kids were stealing his ladder from the back of his store to get on his roof.

“They’re just so destructive those kids. They get up on the roofs every night,” he said.

While he’s also thankful for the extra police presence, he’s still is worried about his business.

“I may have to stay here tonight and patrol around and keep an eye on the place,” he said.

Police said youth and their parents are also disobeying hotel policies.

“Parents have come over and either (got) short-term rental houses, or hotel rooms, piled up a whole bunch of kids and walked away,” New Smyrna Beach Police Chief Mike Coffin said.

After 1,000 arrests were made in Miami with spring break crowds, police across Central Florida are bracing for more to visit the region.

New Smyrna Beach Mayor Russ Owen said they want families to visit, but unaccompanied juveniles roaming the town causing problems for residents and businesses will not be tolerated.

For parents who claim that it is just “kids being kids,” Owen said he is open to having a conversation about that.

“I can explain to them how children stealing a ladder from a restaurant using it to climb on the roof of a restaurant and throw their furniture off that roof, that’s not kids being kids,” Owen said.

On top of the curfew, commissioners are asking the police department to beef up police presence in the area.

They are also calling on parents to keep their kids in line.

“The parents are the problem... and if the parents [want to] let their kids become problems for us, I want to make it a problem for the parents,” Vice Mayor Jason McGuirk said.

Penalties include a written warning for the first violation and a $50 to $100 fine or community service applied at the hourly minimum wage rate for each subsequent violation.

Exceptions apply to youth who are accompanied by a parent, guardian or verified supervising adult.

About the Authors:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.