With clear skies and good surf, Memorial Day weekend saw droves of people flocking to Laguna Beach’s waters, prompting lifeguards to make 78 rescues.
Chief of Marine Safety Mark Klosterman said about 90,000 people visited the 5.5 miles of Laguna’s beaches over the course of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which was yellow- flagged much of time indicating less-than-docile waters.
“Any nice weather leading up to a weekend and you’re going 20,000 people on our beaches,” Klosterman said.
Since it’s still a few weeks until schools get out for summer recess, beach season hasn’t technically begun yet. Klosterman said lifeguards only staffed about 15 of the city’s 30 lifeguard stations over the weekend because they run on a skeleton crew until June 23.
Despite their small numbers, lifeguards made 78 rescues over the weekend, 54 of those coming on Monday. Klosterman said each day was progressively busier, which is normal during holiday weekends.
Lifeguards also made precautionary contact with more than 2,000 people to issue safety warnings.
Klosterman said the massive volume of people at the beach this weekend isn’t uncommon for holiday weekends. He said July 4, Memorial Day and Labor Day are the busiest of the year.
On June 23, the lifeguards will be out in full force along with the crowds. There are about 40 new recruits who have been trained this year to supplement the contingent of about 60 returning lifeguards.
The staff of 100 lifeguards will be necessary to keep from overburdening the Marine Safety Department and to protect beachgoers.
“I think we’re going to see consistently busy weekends,” Klosterman said.
While summer is the obvious busy season, Klosterman said beach attendance has been creeping up year round. Klosterman attributes this to Laguna becoming a year-round destination instead of merely a summer destination.
“It’s a year-round resort in Laguna Beach,” Klosterman said.