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    Thursday, May 30, 2024

    Residents cap off summer with beach visits, ice cream

    Cousins Lucius Farwell-Zinz, left, 7, of Groton, and Kayten Zinz, 6, of Ledyard, race into the water at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Marcie Knight holds her son Christian Venturini, 2, both of Norwich, as they look for crabs at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. “I think we’ve been here eight or 10 times this summer,” said Knight. “We’re already planning on getting a season pass next year.” (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Jodie Bartnick, left, and Phil Nahas, both of Groton, read as they join others in lawn chairs in the grass at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    A lifeguard looks out at the crowded beach at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Melissa Zinz, left, talks to her son Kayten Zinz, 6, of Ledyard as they cool off in the water at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Pat Brungard of Waterford and Kim Kuhse of Groton arrived at Eastern Point Beach in the City of Groton early Monday to beat the crowds and spend the unofficial last day of summer lounging on the beach.

    “It’s beautiful,” Kuhse said of the beach. “It’s Labor Day, and our beach days are going to be over before we know it, and we’re taking advantage of it.”

    While they said rain and clouds prevented them from going to the beach some days, particularly at the beginning of the summer, they typically spent every sunny weekend on the beach in loungers.

    At Eastern Point Beach on Monday, kids played in the water and went crabbing as people sat on the sand in lounge chairs on the sunny day.

    Elsewhere in the region, people enjoyed Labor Day at the beach, strolling around and eating ice cream, capping off a summer that remained busy, even when it was rainy or overcast.

    Chris Kisling of Waterford said she went to Eastern Point Beach on Monday with friend Lori Hebert of Gales Ferry to enjoy “one last beach day” before real life gets back in motion.

    The friends enjoy going to the beach to catch up and talk about life.

    “It’s very zen here,” said Hebert, who enjoys the sailboats, the beach’s concession stand and the soft sand.

    Crowds hold their own

    Through the end of July, attendance at Eastern Point Beach reached 30,048 people, slightly above the 29,879 in the same period last year, said Mary Hill, the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

    “Our summer at the beach went very well,” Hill said.

    While she said the weather wasn’t always the best, the beach was busy on good days.

    State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Paul Copleman said the season for the state’s parks and beaches started out slow, with historic rain in July, but picked up in late July and August with a lot of warm and sunny weekends and was on track to finish strong over Labor Day weekend.

    Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University, said it was a cool and wet summer. Rainfall was substantially above normal, but the showers and thunderstorms dissipated as they moved to the shoreline.

    The inland part of the region had 4.24 inches of rainfall above normal this summer ― equivalent to an extra month of rainfall ― while the amount of rainfall was just slightly below normal in the Groton area, Lessor said. Overall, there were 33 days this summer with measurable rain in Groton, and 35 days with measurable rain in the Norwich area.

    Temperatures were normal in Norwich, and about 1.4 degrees above normal in Groton, he said.

    Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Flax said the Mystic crowds held their own for the summer, even on days with rain or bad weather, and businesses overall fared well.

    Flax noted that Mystic has become so popular that a AAA office in Ohio called this past spring to seek information about Mystic because so many people were calling about Mystic. He said he anticipates that Mystic’s designation as the fourth top summer destination by USA Today will continue to pay benefits even beyond the summer, with crowds continuing in the fall into winter.

    Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said it’s been a very good summer for businesses in the region, which benefit from tourism, the booming business at Electric Boat, and the offshore wind industry.

    Summer travel up

    Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford, said travel was up for all the major holidays this summer. She said people had “pent-up travel energy” after not traveling for a couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “They had postponed trips, and 2023 seemed like the year to kick back into full gear and have a resurgence of family vacations and all the trips people had put off,” Noble said.

    Over Labor Day weekend, from midnight Sept. 1 to 8 a.m. Sept. 4, state police reported 4,247 calls for service, issued 565 violations, including 538 for speeding, and made 23 driving under the influence arrests. They said there were 259 motor vehicle crashes, including 29 with injury and one fatal crash.

    Visiting the area, enjoying local destinations

    Ceta Sultan of Hartford visited Mystic on Monday with her sisters, Wave Jaisingh, a traveling nurse on break between assignments, and Stephanie Jaisingh and Joan Singh of Pennyslvania. The sisters are on a road trip until Friday, with the goal of stopping in places that include Newport, R.I., Providence, Plymouth, Mass., and Boston.

    They took a photo at Mystic River Park with boats in the background and planned to spend the day walking around and going to lunch and shops.

    They are from a family, with six sisters, who grew up living right on the water in Guyana.

    “We like to get together,” said Joan Singh, adding that the sisters remain close and plan trips together.

    Kirstyna Kennedy and husband Michael, and daughters Camilla, who will turn 2 this month, and Michaela, 3, took a walk to Mystic River Park on Labor Day, where Camilla and Michaela ate candy.

    This summer, they had visits from family, enjoyed boating, took walks, ate ice cream, visited the Mystic & Noank Library and Mystic Aquarium, and fed the ducks at Olde Mistick Village. The family is gearing for a trip this month to Iceland.

    “We like to enjoy the summer here and then when summer passes, we like to travel,” Kirstyna said.

    At Michael’s Dairy in New London, Susan Davis of Norwich and her nephew Allante Walker, 11, and grandson Khamari Vessels, 7, were eating ice cream at a table outside after going to Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford.

    “Who doesn’t love ice cream, right?” said Davis.

    Allante and Khamari both said they had a good summer and were looking forward to the school year, with Allante continuing to play basketball, and Khamari excited for karate.

    Back at Eastern Point Beach, couple Melissa and Wendell Whipple of Lisbon spent a day at the beach where Wendell has been coming for the past 63 years since his great-grandparents Jane Orkney and James Orkney Sr. took him there. The family had a reunion at the Zbierski House at Eastern Point Beach this summer.

    The Whipples relaxed in beach chairs and planned to later go home and grill steaks and corn on the cob.

    “It’s the perfect end to our perfect summer,” said Melissa Whipple.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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