This just in, from Livings Editor Carolanne Roberts:
If ever we needed proof that our prized Florida Panhandle beaches are thriving, it's this YouTube video I just watched twice and will watch again.
My computer screen turned into a lush landscape of transparent blue-green as I watched a cluster of rays swimming beyond the snowy beach. The shots continue until the last proud ray disappears into the far reaches of my desktop. The clip's message is clear — good choice of word, by the way — and the message strong. Beaches like Alys, Seaside, Rosemary, Watercolor and, to the east, Panama City Beach are open for business.
"A friend of mine says it best," reports Barbara Paul Sullivan of Saltwater Grill along Panama City Beach. "The only oil we have here is suntan oil! The national media makes it sound as if there's an oil problem on our beaches. But c'mon down. I went to the beach yesterday, got in the water, and it was emerald green. The white sandy beaches are white. There's nothing wrong. Even our fishes are fine."
Down the road at Alys Beach, Scott Stephens, vice president of resort operations, says, "We're leisure as usual. I've been out on a boat, on the beach — it's as if the news in Louisiana and Orange Beach never happened in terms of what you see here. But if something were to change and the oils do reach us, we will amend our cancellation policy to allow for refunds on all deposits."
So should you be afraid to race down to the beach now that the kids are out of school? "Absolutely," says Scott. "Absolutely." –Carolanne Roberts