Thousands of teens removed from 30A as deputies try to control crowds

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Underage drinking, fights, and unruly crowds of teenagers led the Walton County Sheriff’s Office to shut down some 30A beaches overnight for April 1-5.

The beaches are closed to any unsupervised minor from Highway 283 to the Bay County line, which includes Rosemary and Alys Beach. The closure runs from 7 p.m. to morning.

But even with the closure, thousands of teens flocked to the area Monday night, moving back and forth between the beachside neighborhoods for hours.

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“It was mayhem, people were fighting and stuff,” one visiting teenager said.

“Obviously when these kids get in a crowd like that, they do things normally they don’t ever do. And it’s that big mob mentality. And that’s what we’re trying to stop and prevent from happening,” Scott Hogeboom, Walton County Sheriff’s Office said.

Local residents say the sheriff’s office is doing the best they can. But with the beaches closed, the teens have nowhere to hang out causing problems in the neighborhoods.  

“They were in Seaside, they were in watercolor each of these communities closed, and here comes the kids right through Old Seagrove,” Shirley Garrett, Seagrove resident said. “Then the sheriff would do a little noise and they would drop their bicycles and run between houses. So it’s just kind of chaotic.” 

Walton County Sheriff’s Office

Some tourists say they don’t mind the closure.  

“It’s OK because the kids are wild down there. I don’t like it anyway,” another visiting teen said.  

Lieutenant Hogeboom said they helped property managers evict 3 vacation homes Monday night for underage drinking and overcrowding. 

Walton County Sheriff’s Office

WCSO confirmed one teenager was tased during the night but no other details were provided. 

The crowds faded when the kids finally went home.

The sheriff’s office urges parents and those responsible for the kids not to drop them off and leave them for the night. 

The beaches will close every day at 7 pm. They are still open to families and adults at night.  

Beach access will go back to normal on April 6. 

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