Local students descend on San Felipe


April 17, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

For many students of Imperial Valley College and area schools who are older than 18, the week after Easter means one thing — a Mexico spring break.

For many it may mean two things, actually — the other one being throwing up in a bathroom.

Since Prohibition, the lure of drinking legally has pulled Imperial Valley residents over the border to Mexicali and Tijuana. This year, the resort town of San Felipe is bracing for Imperial Valley party-goers.

"A young woman from IVC told me that there were going to be ‘just tons' of people coming down here this year," said John Fitzgerald, owner and manger of Rockodile in San Felipe.

Fitzgerald, biased since his bar profits if such crowds do arrive, is looking forward to it.

"I didn't tell her that there is no way the crowd this week could match the Easter weekend crowd. I just hope the IVCers come down."


Fitzgerald has owned the popular San Felipe bar and dance club for a year and a half. He has owned the Beachcomber, just down the San Felipe boardwalk, for five years.

He said last weekend was his second busiest of the year. Memorial Day was the busiest.

"It was wild. We had people scaling the two-story wall (separating Rockodile from the boardwalk) trying to get in. We had bouncers on top of the wall throwing them off," Fitzgerald said.

He said business this week should be good because of the local spring break but he hopes he didn't miss a chance to promote San Felipe to IVC students.

"I really didn't know there was so many students there interested in coming down," he said.

Fitzgerald said most business for San Felipe hotels such as Las Misiones and the bars and dance clubs such as Mira Mesa, Beachcomber or Rockodile are provided during spring break weeks by San Diego and Los Angeles tour groups.

Fitzgerald said 80 percent of the business from those tour groups is college fraternities and sororities.

Groups such as Summer Winter Action Tour of San Diego and L.A. Ski and Sun Tours annually bring thousands of fraternity men and sorority women to San Felipe for the weeks preceding Easter.

IVC, bereft of a Greek system, has routinely missed the party bus.

Next year, Fitzgerald is looking into righting that by setting up similar tour packages for clubs and groups of IVC students.

In the meantime, Fitzgerald hopes students of IVC, in particular, drive down and enjoy the beach and "happy night club stuff."

He said he is wary of high schoolers and grad trips even though some seniors are age 18.

"Mexico has stricter identification rules than the U.S.," he said.

"During Easter week we had six inspectors camped out in here. Fines range from $500 to $1,000 and that doesn't include the trips to Mexicali for court. It's a real pain."

The San Felipe Tourism Board said those looking for lodging during spring break week better double up because the 1,000-1,150 rooms in San Felipe are usually booked during the two-month long spring break season.

For those unable to get a room, camping is available north and south of San Felipe along the beach and at RV resorts.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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