It all started with some T-shirts in Ocean City, Maryland.
Now, it's morphed into an all-out party-athon in Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Maniac, an event planning service that specializes in spring break and senior week, has been sending students to some of the best parties along the Grand Strand for 13 years.
"It’s an entertainment program and discount VIP program for incoming spring break students this time of year as well as entertainment packages for graduating seniors in the month of June," said Myrtle Maniac founder and owner Bryan Campanile, who has lived in Myrtle Beach since 2001 after growing up in Maryland.
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The way it works is simple. Any student coming down for spring break or senior week can purchase a card priced at $50 that will be delivered to them wherever they're staying (or they can pick it up at Myrtle Beach Tours in North Myrtle Beach). The card will gain them entry into parties at several popular nightlife locations in Myrtle Beach and provide discounts for other things such as cabs, concerts, scooter rentals, jet ski rentals or parasailing.
"The advantage of buying the Myrtle Maniac card through their itinerary party program is that rather than paying $25 to $35 a night, you buy one card for $50 and you save a ton of money," said Taylor J. Burt, who partners with DJ BZ to host parties through their business, Party Monster AF, including many Myrtle Maniac events. "Plus, the card offers a lot of discounts on attractions, cab rides, food all over town. It’s more than just a nightlife card. If you’re in Myrtle Beach, it saves you money advantageously across the board for anything you want to do."
Campanile's idea for the discount party card evolved from activities he did when he was a student in Maryland. He spent his senior week in Ocean City, Maryland and, while in college, he began selling party-themed T-shirts there.
Once he finished college, Campanile was pondering where he was going to live when some friends of his convinced him to join them on a trip to Myrtle Beach, where he'd never been. Staying for a few weeks, Campanile wound up meeting a female and over time "things got kind of serious."
He wound up moving down here, where he would soon begin his business. Myrtle Maniac debuted in 2005.
"That's when I decided to give Myrtle Beach a try and see if we could do the Myrtle Maniac program there for the students, and it worked really well," Campanile said. "And I just met enough people there that I kind of just put down roots."
Now, Myrtle Maniac provides discounted entry into events such as foam parties, blow rages and Mardi Gras events.
"We do a lot of crowd surfing, pouring champagne on the girls. It’s a mad house," Burt said of the Party Monster AF events. "If you have a captive audience that wants to party, we bring the party."
Campanile said he tries to include Party Monster AF as much as possible in his bigger events because of the quality show they put on. It only makes sense, he says, because of the nature of nightlife these days.
"The club events have kind of changed over the years. It used to be nothing but dancing. Now it’s almost like it’s a show," he said. "You’re dancing but when it’s a really good club they’ll have an emcee or a host that kind of gets the crowd wild and kind of gets them flowing up and down depending on how the music’s going."
There are several weeks included for the spring break and senior week cards in order to accommodate schedules that differ from state to state, and the card includes entry into many different venues throughout each week.
"It’s good to give them variety throughout the week, so it’s a bigger experience to be able to see multiple places, multiple venues, places [that] look different, the DJs are normally different, the experiences are different," Campanile said. "You don’t want them to get bored by Day 3.
"We just try to keep it unique and interesting so every day is something to look forward to, not like ‘Oh gosh, we just did that last night, why go back there again tonight?’ ”
Campanile said the spring break event has grown over the years and he estimated that the number of cards sold is already up 40 percent from 2017. On top of that, he said that based on his knowledge of other events going on throughout the country, Myrtle Maniac provides the biggest high school graduation party in the U.S.
"[We] just try to make them have a celebration," Campanile said. "It’s a time of their life to remember their one grad week."
However, he believes those who make the trek to Myrtle Beach for spring break and/or senior week are likely to come back, an aspect that helps the area's tourism industry.
"What I find is when you attract the college spring breakers, when the high school grad students come in to celebrate their graduation, that 18-year-old or that 23-year-old is the one that’s going to come back when they’re 30 with their kids because they’re branded on Myrtle Beach," Campanile said.
He said that those who complain about the parties and ruckus by the younger crowd might be overlooking the long-term effects of having them here.
"I think sometimes people miss that. They say ‘we don’t need those kids; they don’t spend any money anyway,' " Campanile said. "They come here, leave with the Myrtle Maniac card so I make sure they have the time of their life in Myrtle Beach and then I guarantee you we see them back here with disposable income when they’re 28, 30, 35 with their kids because Myrtle Beach was a memory for them that they’ll never forget. I think sometimes people don’t understand that."
Campanile also collaborates with various events in other cities, especially some in Florida, which is known as the ultimate spring break destination. And while he doesn't see Myrtle Beach overtaking any of those sites anytime soon, Campanile plans to continue to provide the best parties here.
"We’re trying to grow it a little bit and bring in a spring break crowd that can have some fun. Obviously we’ll never be what Florida is in regards to just the perception of that’s where you go for spring break. But we get a really good crowd," he said. "It’s a small crowd [in comparison]. It’s a crowd Myrtle Beach can accommodate without it getting out of control. We just try to make sure they have a good time and try to grow it a little bit as we move forward."