A busy start to Memorial Day weekend at Hammonasset Beach

MADISON -- Many people took advantage of the beautiful weather and got a head start on their Memorial Day weekend at Hammonasset Beach Friday.

All 550 spots at the campgrounds were occupied.

The turnout could be a sign of a very busy Memorial Day weekend.

“We wanted to come to the beach to enjoy the weather,” said Wesleyan University Senior Maeve Vitale.

For kids like Makhi Hoover of New Haven, it is the best way to kick off the holiday weekend.

Clinton resident, Kristin Walker is a regular at the beach.

“Nice walk... gorgeous day,” Walker said. “It’s the beginning of a long weekend. What more can you ask for?”

Maeve Vitale and Meg Hanan are starting their holiday weekend at the beach with more than a dozen friends before they graduate from Wesleyan University Sunday.

Their problem was that it was too cold to go in the water.

“It’s a little cold and windy but it’s still fun,” Vitale said.

“Perfect weather to throw the football around and run around,” Hanan said. “Maybe not get in the water.”

Connecticut residents visiting state parks and forests this holiday weekend get to do so for free.

The Passport to the Parks Program is part of the new state. It waives entrance fees for 24 state parks and 3 state forests. Costs come out of DMV registration fees.

Colleen Phibbs set up shop at the camp grounds with her family, which she does every year.

“Oh, we got cousins, mom, dad, sisters, yup. Nieces, nephews,” Phibbs said.

For Phibbs and her family, that’s what Memorial Day weekend is all about.

“Absolutely,” she said. “Bon fires, s’mores and family.”

There are more than two miles of beach to enjoy from 8 a.m. to sunset.