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      Spring Break crowd bringing lower numbers to the Grand Strand

      After a brutal winter on the Grand Strand, it's hard to believe it's already spring break for many college students.

      While the event is usually good news for the Grand Strand's economy, merchants along Ocean Boulevard says crowds are actually thinner this year.

      "I've been down here for 15 years and this has been the worst," said Taylor Nelms, a manager at a gift store on Ocean Boulevard.

      She and other merchants said the winter may be sending some spring breakers farther south.

      "It usually starts picking up around the beginning of spring break, but it hasn't really been as busy as it's been this year. It's been one of the slower years," Nelms said.

      Despite the fewer numbers this year, those who did come to Myrtle Beach for spring break are having a great time doing some fun activities.

      "The sky wheel. If you have a faint heart, don't do it. That is very high. Very, very high," Alexander Orange of Charlotte said.

      "We went to all the Ripley's places. We've been on the beach a few times. Lots of swimming and things," Briley Ivey of Ontario said.

      Now that temperatures are finally starting to rise, so are merchants' hopes.

      "We feel like it's going to pick up. we feel like this year is going to be better than last year. The crowds have been good, the traffic's picking up, so we feel like it's only going to get better from here," Jessica Mula, Marketing Representative for Ripley's said.