If you've been out to Pensacola Beach anytime this summer you've seen them. Large portable party tents being used as beach umbrellas. And for the most part everyone thinks that's great. The problem starts when the sun goes down but the tents stay up.
Robbie Schrock, the Director of Administration at the Santa Rosa Island Authority says some beach goers have been leaving the tents up over night, some for days or weeks, to preserve their spot on the beach. Schrock says that creates a hazard along the sand. To help get the word out about taking the tents down, the Santa Rosa Island Authority created magnets with beach dos and don'ts printed on them that were distributed to rental properties along the beach. For the past couple of weeks, they also enlisted the help of some volunteer beach ambassadors.
Schrock says the ambassadors are people who live out on the island or have been in the area most of their lives and want to help the community. They go up and down the beach, usually in the morning, talking with people who have the beach tents and reminding them of the rules. They are also tagging tents on the beach with no people around with a reminder about taking the tent down if it will be unattended. The beach ambassadors are also clearing debris and filling in any deep holes that were left on the beach and could be a safety hazard. Schrock says they prefer to use the ambassadors rather than pass an ordinance outlawing the tents as some other beaches in the region already have.
The beach ambassadors roam the sand various times during the day and will be on duty at least through Labor Day, perhaps later into the month of September if the crowds at the beach keep coming.