Saturday of the July Fourth weekend ushered in larger crowds to Wrightsville’s beach strand but with little disturbance.
Wrightsville Beach Park Ranger Shannon Slocum estimated a crowd of 15,000 on Saturday afternoon. He said beachgoers began to arrive around 9:30 a.m. with traffic congesting island streets by mid-morning. He said that amount of traffic makes it harder on law enforcement as they attempt to respond to calls across the island.
“You get called off the actual beach strand and it takes you twenty or thirty minutes just to go back and forth,” Slocum said.
Slocum reported issuing only a few citations by mid-afternoon. He said most of the citations he issued on Friday were for open containers and glass on the beach.
Ocean Rescue Director Dave Baker reported no rescues around 4 p.m. on Saturday, echoing Slocum’s report that the beach strand was calm despite larger crowds. Only a few minor rescues took place on Friday.
Slocum suggested fewer rescues were needed due to education efforts on the part of the town.
He said the turnout seemed to include more families than usual, which could be a reason the beach seemed calm. He also reported seeing more umbrellas than usual, saying it seems like beachgoers are spending more time at the beach.
“Most times people only come out for two or three hours, but I think what you’re seeing is, people are staying longer. Coming to the beach is still the cheapest thing you can do with your family,” Slocum said.