By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — After a slow, rainy start to the season, attendance at the City of Plattsburgh beach complex is rising fast.
“We’ve had a very strong 10 days from just after the Fourth of July,” Recreation Director Steve Peters said.
“We’ve had a ton of people out there and a lot of local people, which is outstanding.”
The spike in attendance in recent weeks is largely due to the steamy, hot weather, Peters said. With temperatures in the high 80s many days, crowds have increased steadily.
The peak came the weekend of July 13 and 14 when nearly 2,400 people showed up, bringing in more than $5,000 in revenue.
“Last year, we only had one day when we brought in more than $2,000 and none before that since I came here in 2007,” Peters said.
“(Two weekends ago), we had two days like that.”
DELUGED WITH RAIN
Prospects weren’t that promising when the beach opened for swimming on June 8, as the area was deluged with rain. Only six people showed up on June 16 and none on June 21.
Peters said if weather is really bad and forecasts are not favorable, they close the beach and send workers home.
“Sometimes, its nice in the morning, and we will open, and then the thunderstorms roll in at 2 p.m.,” he said.
“But we try to open every day.”
The numbers started rising the weekend of July 5 and 6 as the weather cleared.
The bump in revenue has helped beach figures catch up in the race to meet the budgeted projection of $45,000 for the season. So far, the take is down about $2,600 from projections, but the warmer weather should help, Peters said.
“We are down a bit right now, but it could have been worse with the start we had,” he said.
“We’ve made it (budget projection) every year, and hopefully, if this keeps up, we will make it again this year.”
Helping matters are a slight price increase at the gate. Beach entrance for city and Town of Plattsburgh residents is free with proof of residency.
For all others, admittance is $6 per carload on weekdays and $7 on weekends. Last year, it was $5 per carload every day. The beach is also offering a discount price of $4 per carload after 4 p.m. each day.
The number of Canadian beach-goers has been on pace with recent years, Peters said, with a high of 909 on Saturday, July 13.
Also that day, 530 city and town residents showed up, along with 122 from areas other than the city, town and Canada creating a high attendance total for the season of 1,561.
While such numbers are impressive, they are nowhere near the maximum number of people allowed at the beach on any given day of 3,900.
Peters said having large crowds is great, but even bigger numbers than what they’ve seen could be a challenge.
“We’ve done everything we’ve done this year with only about 15 feet of beach,” he said.
The heavy rains of spring and early summer raised the level of Lake Champlain almost 3 feet higher than it normally is this time of year.
“We usually have 75 to 100 feet of beach, and we don’t this year, but that hasn’t stopped people from coming,” he said.
‘FEELS SO GOOD’
Among those who have been hitting the beach when they can are Ian Curtis and his three young children, Mercedes, Damian and Macenzie.
The family spent Thursday afternoon frolicking in the 79-degree water.
“We walked here from Bailey Avenue, and it was so hot,” Curtis said.
“This feels so good.”
Peters said events at the beach such as the weekly mini triathlons and volleyball leagues have also helped attract people to the sand.
Smooth Moves has been offering food, and the Cabana Beach Bar has also been open.
The beach will stay open through Labor Day.
“The numbers were down early this year, but we are slowly reeling them back in,” Peters said.
Email Joe LoTemplio:firstname.lastname@example.org