With rain in the forecast for Memorial Day weekend, Governor Ned Lamont made a request on Friday morning.
“Come on man, we’ve been waiting for this day for two years,” he said looking up at the sky. “We want bright sunshine and make sure everyone knows it’s welcome in all of our parks, all of our beaches.”
He and other state leaders were at Hammonasset Beach State Park to announce a new pilot program offering weekend and vacation bus service to state parks and beaches during Labor Day , called ParkConneCT.
“This is a great collaboration, a partnership with all levels of government to bring transit options, more transit options in our state parks,” said Senator for Guilford State, Christine Cohen (D).
The service will give more people, especially children, the opportunity to enjoy the summer a little more.
“I really want them to have the opportunity to experience what we can all enjoy,” said Lamont. “Because we have a lot of kids in our state who haven’t had the opportunity to experience beaches like this.”
There were a handful of people in Hammonasset on Friday into a slow start to the beach season.
“When we got here it wasn’t bad. The sun was out longer, it was a little warmer, ”said Lisa Ryan of Ridgefield. “And now it’s got a little windy and cold.”
Lisa and Jim Ryan drove an hour and 20 minutes just to make the most of the day.
“During a quarantine? Any day, ”said Jim Ryan. He added that he was not a beach fan, but Hammonasset was his favorite place.
At the campsite, a long queue has formed for registration. It was a sign of the sold-out crowds for Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s so good to be here this year compared to last year,” said Bristol’s Daryl Blinn. “Last year there was nothing, so we had to cancel. So this year it’s supposed to be rainy, but happy to be here.
In fact, all 14 campgrounds and 1,400 sites in the state have been sold. People came from all over Connecticut and New England to kick off the summer.
“We’ve come almost 13 years in a row,” said Colleen Phibbs of Troy, New York.
His family coordinated this year to lock down eight places. They set up the family campers, delighted to be together again after taking time off last year.
“Saturday evening, we are going to do the Italian evening. They will play cornhole tomorrow, they will have games at the cornhole. We usually go to the beach if the weather is nice, ”said Phibbs.
Undeterred by the weather threats, people are ready for this weekend and for the summer. Both Phibbs and Blinn said their planning begins months in advance.
“We do this all the time eleven months in advance because they all sell out pretty quickly,” Blinn said.
But the faithful of the campsite should not worry.
“There are over 1,400 campsites across the state and plenty and lots of availability for the rest of the summer, so we urge people to check out our website or our partner reserveamerica.com who makes reservations with us “said Tyler.
And a sold-out weekend means a boost for riverside businesses. Dave Donahue, owner of Clam Castle, looks forward to serving new customers.
“I imagine people might go to restaurants a bit more this weekend because they won’t go out,” he said.