Heat, holiday crowds push state parks to capacity

MIDDLETOWN -- If you spent your July 4th holiday at one of Connecticut’s State parks or beaches you were lucky.

Some of state’s parks and beaches were so full that they had to turn people away.

“We are just swimming, hanging out,” said Marin’s sister, Hazel.”

So many families flocked to the parks and beaches on Independence Day that by the late morning, more than a dozen parks and beaches were filled to capacity and closed to new vehicles.

This is also the first year Connecticut’s Passport To Parks program takes effect, which allows free access to state parks for motorists who pay $10 extra for car registrations.

The incentive comes just in time for the extended heat wave.

“The, the waters really cool. It’s refreshing,” said Jacinda Marin.

The Marin sisters are among the lucky beach-goers to get into Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown before it had to stop allowing drivers entry.

“Corn on the cob is in here we’re going to keep it warm,” said Noel Figueroa. “See that. That’s what we talking about.”

Figueroa and his family set up near the campgrounds where he was in charge of the grilling station

“We got ribs, sazzone, garlic and we have a little rice, arroz con grandules, sofrito,” Figueroa said.

For Figueroa, the July 4th holiday is all about family food, fun and --

“It’s about liberation, he said. “Fourth of July. Independence Day.”

Not all state parks were filled to capacity. Gay City State Park in Hebron was one of them.

“We are at the lake swimming and we’re having fun,” said Nalii Scales.

Scaled and her family come all the way from Hartford to celebrate the holiday.

Ken Strong came from Rockville.

“It’s a nice little getaway,” Strong said. “You know, relatively mellow. Everybody gets along here.”

That’s why Strong and his wife chose to celebrate Independence Day at the Hebron park .

“You never see any fights here,” he said. “There’s people having a couple of beverages from time to time. But it’s not like a drunken idiot brawl off to the side over.”

State parks and beaches open at 8 a.m. and close at sunset.