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North Miami Senior High - Stories

85th Street Beach - Surf and Suds
By: Charles Corway
I don't know if today's Pioneers even know about 85th Street Beach these days. Many fond - and not so fond - memories occurred there, and class reunions aren't complete without some mention of wading the surf and sucking on suds at 85th Street Beach.

85th Street Beach was a popular party hangout for Pioneers of the 70's and 80's on 85th Street at Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. There's an official name for this park (which I don't remember), but everyone always called it 85th Street Beach. In the days when the drinking age was 18 (and later 19) and ID checking wasn't as strict as it is today many a Pioneer - including myself - got their first experiences getting drunk off their minds.

During football season, most 85th Street parties usually started with a 'pre-party' at the gym parking lot while waiting for the Pioneer football team to return from North Dade Stadium (North Miami stadium wasn't built yet) Once the team had the opportunity to change in the varsity locker room people would begin heading down to the beach, but usually not before stopping by the local Big Daddy's or convenience store to stock up on beer. Then it was almost a straight shot down NE 125th Street which became the Broad Causeway (pay 25 cents toll, please, or if you were cheap, take the free but long way around via Sunny Isles or the 79th Street Causeway) and 96th Street in Bal Harbour/Surfside down Harding Avenue to the beach.

Occasionally, flyers and posters would pop up throughout the halls advertising a party at 85th Street. Most times, the word was passed between students in the halls and classrooms. And sometimes, we had pretty good intelligence (this was in the days before cell phones) on whether Miami Beach's Finest was staking out the place to bust underage drinkers. On days when it was a reasonable certainty of a bust, 85th street was deserted. Once in a while, they'd pop out from nowhere and confiscated opened beer cans from students in various states of intoxication, pouring the nectar of the gods into the sand and scrub brush.

Other northern Dade County high schools also used 85th Street as a party spot, and it was an unwritten rule that the school who was the home team at North Dade Stadium had 'exclusive' use on that Friday night. One never made the mistake of barging in on an 85th Street Beach party on a night when another school had the beach. If you didn't know anyone or saw rival school colors or jackets it was highly recommended for one's health to quickly - and quietly - find another place to party.

Haulover Beach down by the old fishing pier and the Haulover Cut was our alternate party spot in the event the party was interrupted by the gendarmes on 85th Street. By that time, most supplies of beer began to run out and the liquor stores were closing, so it was not unusual for parties to end around 2 to 3 in the morning. DUI didn't carry the strict legal and social stigma as it does today one hoped one was sober enough to drive home without attracting the attention of the cops.