May 27, 2014–Santa Cruz,
On a busy Memorial Day weekend, warm weather and a three-day weekend combined to bring thousands flocking to the shore on a sun-baked but otherwise uneventful weekend. Santa Cruz lifeguards estimated that on Main Beach alone, 60,000 brought their towels, picnics and umbrellas, leaving no inch of beach unoccupied.
“A lot of businesses around here said this was the busiest Memorial Day they’ve seen,” said Capt. Josh Coleman of the Santa Cruz Fire Department’s marine safety division.
At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Memorial Day kicks off a summer of daily operations through Labor Day. Lines for everything from the Giant Dipper to Dippin’ Dots were long.
“It was one of those perfect Boardwalk weekends where people are on the beach having fun and everyone’s on the Boardwalk, enjoying themselves,” Boardwalk spokesman Kris Reyes said. “People are excited. … It’s been great.”
Temperatures throughout the weekend were in the mid to upper-70s along the coast, and in the upper-80s in the mountains. By early afternoon, sheaths of morning fog burned off to reveal blazing blue skies.
Business was brisk at places like Cowell’s Beach Surf Shop. Even as the waves petered out through Monday, customers kept up the pace when it came to buying bathing suits and other merchandise.
“It’s been really busy,” employee Cece Lynch said.
At the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, pleasure-boaters and fishermen made it out to sea and back Ok, Deputy Harbormaster Blake Anderson said. But the beaches were busy, he added, echoing a theme.
“It’s definitely record crowds for us,” Anderson said.
The California Highway Patrol arrested about 10 people for driving under the influence and attended to about 25 crashes on area roads, neither number being out of line for a holiday weekend, officer Jeff Lutz said. And with traffic mostly gridlocked throughout the weekend, none of the accidents had life-threatening injuries.
“Traffic coming down 17 into the city was backed up for most of the weekend. Same with Highway 1 because of the Blues Festival down in Aptos,” Lutz said.
Coleman said lifeguards were busy helping swimmers throughout the weekend, but there were no drownings or serious injuries. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jed Wilson said there were only a few moments of peril, including a North Coast water rescue that ended well.
Mike DeMars, a spokesman for the Central Fire Protection District, said the biggest thing to happen all weekend was the agency raising $12,000 in a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
While Mother Nature was good to the tourists this holiday weekend, she also has a treat in store for locals: Over the next few days, temperatures are expected to rise even higher.
By Deborah Fitts