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Residents Dry Off on the Beach

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Underneath a clear blue sky without a cloud in sight, 5-year-old Robert Casas stared summer in the face, seeing all the promise of many more Sundays to come.

It was Robert’s first trip to the beach since school let out. Flanked by his father and mother, the Corona kindergartner arrived at Huntington Beach on Sunday, toting a red homemade kite replete with yellow and green tails fashioned from crepe paper. But before the kite ever had a chance to soar above the level of his head, Robert handed it over to his mother and headed for the water.

“He’s just itching to go swimming,” said his father, Alex Casas, looking out on the ocean where the sun was playing on waves at a near-perfect pitch.

After a seemingly endless string of weekends marked by El Nino-driven rains, gloom and cool temperatures, skies that hinted of the summer to come brought droves of residents to the beach, where mild temperatures and cool breezes helped stave off the sting of the sun.

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Lingering storm conditions created waves as high as 10 feet and drew so many surfers off the pier that some abandoned the water in frustration, complaining of the crowds.

A heavy surf advisory was expected to continue through today, prompting lifeguards to take extra caution on the job. But as of Sunday afternoon, county authorities said there were no reports of problems. Temperature highs in the 70s and low 80s are expected to continue today.

While Robert urged his parents to take him for a swim, three bikini-clad friends lying nearby were talking about men. Peggy Kalama, 31, of Huntington Beach said she was trying to concentrate on her tan but was pleasantly distracted by “Joe,” who happened to be sitting nearby. And on the beach-front path, there was a busy mix of walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters and people pushing baby carriages.

Steve Reaza, 38, took his 9-year-old son to the pier for their first summer fishing trip of the year. After three hours, the pair had yet to reel anything in, but the day ended well anyway.

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“We almost caught one,” Reaza said. The fish “took the line out for about 100 yards. It was the highlight of the day.”

Nearby, Steve Kwack, 25, straddled his bike as he watched a beach volleyball tournament. Kwack, a New Jersey resident on vacation, said he was trying to savor the weather and the sights and take it all back East with him when he leaves Wednesday.

“I love it out here,” he said. “There’s nothing like this in New Jersey.”

It was exactly the kind of weather that had teens and adults alike thinking about the endless days of fun ahead.

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Ryan Rosche knows exactly how he’ll spend his summer: “surfing and mountain-biking” and taking a trip to Mexico with friends.

The 16-year-old Huntington Beach High School student hit the surf Sunday but left after finding the wind was making the waves too choppy. So he’ll try again today. And the next day. And the day after that.

After all, there’s nearly three months of summer ahead, and plenty of time to find that perfect wave.


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