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Smaller holiday beach crowds, but busy weekend for San Diego Lifeguards

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Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-05 21:26:54-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Lifeguards say beach attendance was much larger compared to a typical weekend, but drastically smaller than the usual Independence Day crowds.

Still, lifeguards conducted hundreds of rescues along San Diego's coastline.

America's big beach birthday bash was not as jam-packed this year.

"We didn't know what to expect," San Diego Fire-Rescue Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum said. "We thought maybe with LA beaches and Orange county beaches closed, we'd see an influx, but we didn't really."

Lt. Lerum says only about 200,000 to 300,000 people came to San Diego beaches this July 4th weekend, compared to over 1,000,000 visitors in years past.

"Obviously, with the fireworks being canceled, people didn't camp out all day waiting for them," Lt. Lerum said. "So parking lots were full; however, the beaches and parks were not at full capacity."

This meant leftover trash was not nearly as bad either. Volunteers of the local Surfrider Foundation spent a fraction of their usual time picking up Sunday morning.

Those who did come to the beaches could not wait to dip their feet in the sand.

"For three months, we are in quarantine, and so it was so hard for me!" Fay Beygi said.

Only a few people were seen wearing masks, as many visitors stuck together with their families, or were in the water.

While some were hoping for more enforcement, lifeguards shifted their focus on the dangerous high surf. On July 4, 2020, they conducted about 300 rescues — 197 of them were at the La Jolla Windandsea. That number includes responding to swimmers in distress, stingray patients, and boating emergencies.

While that is a lot for a typical day, lifeguards say that it is less than half of the usual July 4 numbers. Still, they say Windandsea is a popular place where even experienced surfers and swimmers can get washed away.

"Avoid rip currents when you can," Lt. Lerum said. "If you get stuck in a rip current, try not to panic. Swim parallel to the shore and go back to shore. And please, supervise your young children. Watch them very carefully."

A high surf advisory is in effect this weekend until 12 p.m. on Monday, bringing rip currents and generally hazardous conditions for swimmers. The high surf also could bring some minor flooding to low-lying areas during high tide, including in La Jolla, Del Mar, and Cardiff, according to the National Weather Service.