With Spring Break for many schools just around the corner, Gulf Shores officials are preparing for the beginning of the busy summer beach season.
Crowds of folks turned out Sunday, March 2, 013 to enjoy nearly perfect beach weather. For many, it was refreshing after bitterly cold temperatures plagued the area for much of the winter.
“Oh, we love it. It’s so much better to have white sand rather than white snow,” said a snowbird.
“A month ago, we were down here sliding on the sand in the ice. So this is nice. We like it,” one local said.
Grant Brown, with the city of Gulf Shores, says officials are hoping last year’s numbers, which exceeded $343 million in lodging and $683 million in retail, are an indication of what to expect from 2014.
“All winter long, we remove things from the beach like trashcans and lifeguard stands. We refurbish those and make sure they’re ready for the season,” Brown said, “Now, we’re putting those back on the beach. Our lifeguards are seasonal, so now we’re putting them back through training to get them ready.”
Scott Smothers, Beach Safety Director, says they are training new lifeguards and preparing to put lifeguard stands out on the beach.
“We’re always training, even in the off season. But like everything else, you have to get back in the groove. Once we get in that groove, we’ll be ready to go,” said Smothers.
Beach officials say they’ve done a number of things over the winter to prepare for the busy season, including adding more signs and parking toll machines on the beach as well as coordinating traffic lights.
“The more people we have down here, the more our infrastructure is taxed. So we have to be prepared to move traffic safely and efficiently as possible,” Brown said.
Officials say lifeguards will be placed back on the beaches by March 10.