EAST LYME -- Great weather for a holiday weekend means people swarming the state parks and beaches, several of which, were filled to parking capacity, Sunday.
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) took to twitter on Sunday to announce which parks were full, and at what time. They included: Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, Pattaconk Lake Recreation Area in Cockaponset State Forest, Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield, Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown, Burr Pond State Park in Torrington, Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, Lake Waramug State Park in Washington, Gardener Lake State Park and boat launch.
At Rocky Neck State Park, several people said they knew the park would fill in the morning, so they waited to show up. According to DEEP, it was closed to additional vehicles by 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Today is one of those weekends where you expect everybody to be out, you know it coming in,” Beachgoer Brian Shaw said. “We expected a large crowd so we came late.”
Once people started leaving the park, others were allowed entry.
“When we were on our way down here the sign said it was closed and we were like, we`re still taking the chance we`re coming down here,” Hartford resident Victor Lopez said.
One concern for beach goers is knowing after the holiday weekend, they’ll be changes to state parks due to the state budget.
Shortly after July 4th, there will be adjustments in the days, beaches, or areas of the beaches staffed by lifeguards, according to DEEP, to focus on the days and locations with the largest crowds.
Shoreline parks will have lifeguards scheduled five days a week instead of seven. Inland parks will have lifeguards between three and five days per week.
“Any kid could drown out here any minute so lifeguards are really something important,” Lopez said.
“Having been a lifeguard for many years myself, it’s important to have,” Shaw said. “You need somebody here that there sole purpose is to watch the swimmers and look out for their safety. You never know what’s gonna happen.”
Shaw is disappointed to hear about the changes. He brings his family to the beach several times in the summer.
“I love being here. This is one of the safest beaches for the kids as far as the surf goods, it's always a great time,” he said. “I`d like to see Connecticut step up and put the tax dollars where they should be.”
There are a total of 109 state parks in Connecticut, as well as campgrounds managed by the park system within its 32 state forests, according to DEEP, which attract approximately nine million visitors a year.
If you’re headed to the state parks, Monday, to make your plans, you might want to check out which ones filled up Sunday, and by what time. We have a full list here.