- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

OCEAN CITY (AP) — Rachel Kline is 18, on her first unchaperoned vacation and already familiar with seductive dancing at a nightclub where foam spews out onto the floor.

But her mother would be proud, said Miss Kline, one of about 100,000 recent high-school graduates who are pouring into Ocean City this week.

The annual tradition of seniors taking June vacations to Ocean City has led to their being called “June bugs” in the area.

Some residents and hotel owners dread the descent of rowdy teenagers each June. But Miss Kline called home every day and said not all teens in Ocean City plan to drink underage and cause problems.

“My mom was really worried when we left, but now she has mellowed out a bit,” Miss Kline told the Baltimore Sun. “I think our parents would be proud of us. We’ve cooked for ourselves, and we’ve done our own laundry.”

Not all June bugs are so conscientious.

Ocean City Police say three-fourths of all underage-drinking citations they give out each year happen in June.

Last year, 3,376 were cited, said Barry Neeb, the department’s community relations director.

George Pierce, a restroom attendant who works on the town’s famed boardwalk, said the June bugs are practically an infestation, at least to public restrooms.

“They drink beer in here, write on the walls and just make a mess of things,” Mr. Pierce, 60, told the newspaper. “They’ll stop up the sinks and leave the water running, stick beer cans and rolls of toilet paper in the toilet, steal the signs and even pull commodes out of the wall.”

Fears of vandalism lead some motel and hotel owners to charge the maximum deposit allowed by state law, $500. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged motels and hotels that refused service to 18-year-olds.

In 2002, a state law was passed to make the practice of refusing rooms to June bugs illegal.

“At one point, there were people who didn’t want the graduates,” said Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. “They felt they were having to spend more money than they made hiring security or fixing up rooms that were destroyed. There was a segment that wanted nothing to do with them.”

But Miss Jones said vandalism fears are balanced with an interest in giving 18-year-olds a good impression of Ocean City.

“In another 10 years, these people will be coming back, probably with their children” she said.

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