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The student news site of University of North Dakota

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The student news site of University of North Dakota

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Five Fun Facts on the History of Spring Break

Aspen Jewkes

Spring Break may bring to mind old MTV reels of babes and beer on the beach, but did you know the tradition of Spring Break beach parties began almost 50 years before MTV was even officially launched? Here are five more fun facts about the history of Spring Break.  

UND’s first Spring Break was in 1889. The tradition began to allow students time to return home and celebrate Easter week with their families. An entry in the schedule of the 1888-89 UND bulletin reads, “Easter Vacation includes Good Friday and the following (Easter) week. Third term begins next Monday morning after Easter week.” Though UND was founded in 1883, the class of 1889 was the first to graduate, so it can be said that UND has always had a Spring Break.   

The tradition of partying on the beach began in the 1930’s with a New York swim team from Colgate University. According to researcher Lauren Bohn of Time, it was in 1936 that Coach Sam Ingram, afraid his team would fall behind in training, decided to bring them all down to Fort Lauderdale to condition in the first Olympic-sized swimming pool in Florida. The athletes loved getting away from chilly New York and spending time swimming and socializing in sunny Florida. The next year, more came back for Spring Break and by 1938, Fort Lauderdale was hosting swimming competitions and welcoming all spring breakers. [1]  

By 1958, the parties were becoming so riotous that one intrigued English professor from Michigan State University had to see it for himself. Glendon Swarthout made the pilgrimage to Florida and, after soaking it all in, was inspired to write the book that would epitomize the hedonism of Spring Break for years to come, “Where the Boys Are.” The book was picked up and made into a movie by MGM almost as soon as it was released. [2] 

By the eighties, Spring Breakers had invaded every popular beach in Florida, but Fort Lauderdale, or “Fort Liquordale” by this point, was still the capital for partying, bringing in over 350,000 students a year. In 1986, Florida adopted stricter drinking laws and raised the minimum drinking age to 21. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Robert Dressler, told the nation’s college students they are no longer welcome in an interview on Good Morning America. [3] This prompted students to begin traveling outside of the country on a quest for sun, fun, and lower age restrictions.  

Ironically, despite the law change, 1986 was also the first year MTV covered Spring Break activities on Daytona Beach in Florida. Mr. Mister was among the artists who performed during the event. [4]  

Whatever your plans may be for this Spring Break, remember to be safe and smart, and like my mother always says, “if you can’t be good, be sneaky.”  



1 – 1 Bohn, Lauren. “A Brief History of Spring Break.” 2009. Time  

2 – 2 Yeh, Joseph. “The History of Spring Break: A look back into the history of Spring Break as the future looms uncertain.” 2022. The Waltonian. 

3 – Time (Periodical) 

4 – 4 Ireland, Rhiannon. “What Happened to MTV Spring Break?” 2023. Grunge.Com 


Quindelynne Davis is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected]  

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