The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 822
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March 29, 1998

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 822

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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Page 822
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SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 The Palm Beach Post SECTION D f HEY, PARENTS! Ready for summer? Tell us where your kids go to camp and why they like it. PAGE 8D SOCIETY SNAPSHOTS It was a flurry of chapeaus as the 'Hat Squad' swirled into Palm Beach for the 'Mad Hatters' luncheon. PAGE 3D Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee and Lake Communities ACCENT T--1" 1 I low loud, lewd and rude is Florida's favorite party? Find out from the middle-aged man ( - '' ) 7 '- who tried to crash it. rvnv IV 71 yw- . "J ijj&Z "' u r- mnr?nn3W7 Cruising, a kid ritual at every beach, is a little different at Daytona, where it happens on the beach. For $5, you get to drive all day. Story by Douglas Kalajian O Photos by Bill Ingram 'People see me, and they go, "It's Jon Secada, It's family," ' says the singer, hanging out at the Lipton last week. Holding court: Secada serves (and I swoon) Jon Secada considered himself such a dork that he nearly ditched his senior prom. Yes, that Secada, the swoon-inspiring Cuban crooner who belts out songs de amor with sweaty-chested verve "I was very shy, very introverted," says the 79 Hialeah High School grad. "I finally asked someone to go with me about two days before." Get a load of this, girls. I have Seflor Secada ALL TO MY- 1 ' if !fv'-"'l i 'I .. , SELF. No Revo-shaded entourage, no paranoid publicists. Just me and the Latino of Love. -BP '., 1 i' ' .o; 4 " VI Ll V y ;' y V. . II. Secada s hanging out in the posh Hugo Boss suite at The Lip-ton Championships in Key Biscayne, and he and I stroll outside to a fiklo tnrrH with Un H m rS23 white tulips so fresh (Tourney sponsor Hubo Boss, you see, 1 si K 1 ' t . 'I Between a day of drinking and a night of drinking, the kids make time for some more drinking before heading out to the dance clubs or to parties in other rooms. Beer, as always, is the fuel of choice. This group makes the can pyramid a nightly ritual. supplies Secada's wardrobe. One time when he wore a Boss tuxedo, the Bal Harbour shop sold 13 the next day. This, mi amigos, is marketing.) ' : Today, he's courtside casual in a white ribbed T-shirt under an unbuttoned royal blue collared shirt with linen shorts and black;slip-on sandals. Get the visual? If you didn't know who he was, you'd mistake him for just a regular Jose in the express linaat Publix. And that's part of his allure. Secada who sold 6 million copies of his first album six years ago (plus a half million more in Spanish) is still a homeboy at heart. Like the title of his smash hit, it's Just Another Day when he's in South Florida. "People see me, and they go, 'It's Jon Secada, it's family.' For the Latin community to make you part of their family, it's so great. They'll see me and nod or wave, but it's not like it's a big deal." To me, it's a big deal. I saw Secada two years ago at SunFest and yearned to fling myself on stage. I was young then. As we chat, folks amble by (including Barry Gibbs' teenage son, Ashley, who says hello). He has the Gibb teeth! Some don't notice Secada, others gawk, and a few request an autograph. The performer is exceedingly patient, even making one out to "B.B.," the gal who's cleaning tables. ("Lord have mercy," she squeals.) Secada on the cover of this month's Miami Metro (formerly South Florida Please see LORETTA5) irst, the punchline: "Happy Birthday." DAY 2: Panama City Beach HU" lilt oviujj. iiiv. editors decided it would hp fimnv to send a middle-aged writer to find out what Kate from Ohio's Miami University grinds herself lower than rival Cindy from Central Michigan on her way to victory in a wet T-shirt contest. Anonymity, beer and surging school spirit help girls get over their inhibitions and compete for $50 or $ 100 in prize money. Panama City Beach claims to have the world's most beautiful beach. I don't know: In this weather, all I see is wet sand and frothy, steel-colored water. But along the street this might be the ugliest beachfront south of New Jersey. Driving its 20-some miles, I get a powerful sense of deja view: motel, go-kart track, T-shirt shop. Waffle House; motel, go-kart track, T-shirt shop, Waffle House. It's college-kid heaven. I'm lucky to find room at a motel where 41 Spring Breakers are scheduled to arrive over the next 24 hours. The Canadians are already in town, along with kids from a handful of American schools, but the big wave breaks tomorrow. The official count by local tourism folks shows 37 colleges and universities on the way, most from the Northeast and Midwest but that doesn't include dozens of small schools and community colleges. In all, more than 500,000 kids will swamp the normal population of 4,100 over the next six weeks. I settle in and call home. I can sense my wife's eyebrows arching as I tell her I'm staying at a motel called Bikini Beach. "Sou should have just stayed home and called Richie Tarzian," she says. I remind her we've had this discussion before and that I'm certain no one's "in charge" of Spring Break. The wind picks up dramatically, and I hear rain llfase sff ttfTING BREAK. 6D the college kids are doing on this year's spring vacation. You know, paunchy, balding guy bumbles his way through a mass of muscle boys. That's how I wound up driving 1,400 miles up, down and across Florida in a red convertible, a quarter-century late for my first Spring Break road trip: eight days and seven nights of loud noise, little sleep, fast food and, only because there was no way to avoid it, an endless parade of bikini babes. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely not My wife was very clear on that point: I was not to have fun. In fact, she thought I should just stay home and report the story by phone. Somehow, she got it in her head that her mother's neighbor was in charge of Spring Break. "Just call Richie Tarzian," she said, over and over. When I insisted that I knew how to report a newspaper story and the trip was unavoidable, she insisted that I get back in time to celebrate my 46th birthday with Auntie Arp and Uncle Walt I promised her I wouldn't miss it It's one promise I kept P DAY 1 : The road I'm planning a fast drive to Panama City Beach in the Panhandle, the nation's hottest Spring Break destination, and then 1 - ' A Ron Wiggins i P DAY 2: It's a long road Mid-morning, on the outskirts of Tallahassee, I abandon Interstate 10 for two-lane blacktop and begin the long, slow descent toward the Panhandle's southern coast The sun is strong, the temperature rising. I lower the top. The breeze feels luxurious, like outdoor air conditioning. I drive about five miles before the sky darkens. A mile later, the rain begins. I pull into a Food Lion lot and raise the top. The rest of the drive is misty and gray. It's the best weather 111 see all week. over to Daytona Beach, former champ and still a contender. That should bring me home for the festivities. After that a minibreak to South Beach and Fort Lauderdale, once synonymous with Spring Break. After consulting with my teenage daughter, I have reserved the perfect Spring Break convertible: a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. This is a car that will instantly signal my hipness. I arrive at the rental agency to find none on the lot I settle for a red Pontiac Sunfire, which instantly signals I"m a middle-aged man in a rental car. At least it's a convertible, and the weather's gorgeous. I leave the top up as I drive nearly to the Georgia border. There will be plenty of time for a wind blown tan, I'm ure. Would shooting up a school ever have occurred to my classmates in the 1950s? No and not because we were strangers to violence. Page 4D

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