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WILL CLOUDS OF DOCILITY PUT PERMANENT CHILL ON A `WILD AND CRAZY' RITE?

Joel Melson paid $65 to become a human yo-yo last week - strapping two rubberized cords to his feet and leaping off a 180-foot platform.

Bungee jumping has taken its place among such annual spring break rites as wet T-shirt and bikini contests, beer-guzzling, beach volleyball and sunbathing (and sun-burning).Melson, 23, of Erie, Pa., was among those who lined up to jump from a tiny crane-hoisted basket, snapping back when the cords reached their limit.

"It was intense, it was incredible," he said. "When I got up there, I just had to do it. I've always wanted to do this."

"I do a lot of stupid things, but I wouldn't do that," said Paul Downey, Melson's brother-in-law.

For many of the sun-starved college students, the basics - lying on the beach and ogling members of the opposite sex - were enough. But some complained spring break, expected to draw 400,000 to Daytona Beach this year, wasn't living up to its wild-and-crazy image.

"It was a lot wilder when I first came here three years ago. It was crazy," said Diane Williams, 21, a University of Oklahoma senior who drove 20 hours non-stop with a friend to Daytona Beach.

"We thought it was going to be wilder," said Emma Dashem, 22, who accompanied a friend from Penn State University to Florida. "It is no wilder than the college itself. It is blown out of proportion on TV."

More than 200 companies came to Daytona Beach this year to spotlight their products to the large college market.

A clothing maker constructed a 25-foot-tall mountain on the beach, while an automaker offered students a head and neck massage along with a test drive. MTV promoted rock groups, comedians and contests on a hotel's lawn.

One common spring break sight - police officers arresting students for drinking on the beach - wasn't evident during a recent visit to the beach. Beach police officers, riding three-wheel motorcycles, seemed to be busier making sure sunbathers weren't crushed by the steady stream of traffic.

"These are good kids, well-behaved," said John Kirvin, chief of the beach police. "These kids get a bum rap. We have very little trouble from them. The day-trippers cause most of the problems."

This year, one of the big weeks of spring break came on the heels of Bike Week, the annual invasion of 300,000 motorcycle enthusiasts for the Daytona Speedway bike races.

Many leather-clad bikers sporting tattoos and huge Harleys cruised the beach, watching the young college students with amusement.

"Spring breakers are more retarded than bikers. They do stupid things," said Mark Peloguin, 39, a biker from Manchester, Mass. "We spend more money and we don't trash things."