One week from today the Spring Break Crowd will be arriving. But, in case you didn’t notice, no one notified the tourists or locals that the beach season hasn’t officially started yet. The past few weekends have seen big crowds on the seawall and some brave souls have already been getting in the water for brief amounts of time.
It’s weird when you think about how things have changed over time. Although we used to see big Spring Break crowds in the 80s and early 90s, you really didn’t see much beach activity on in the early spring aside from that. And the beaches used to pretty much shut down once October hit. Now we consistently seen decent beach crowds all but two months out of the year. We’ve even dedicated at least one lifeguard mobile patrol starting in February and ending the first of December. They’re actually moving people away from the dangerous areas by the rocks and making the occasional rescue during those previously cold months. Galveston has basically turned into a year round resort. With the growth rate in the Houston area and elsewhere coupled with what is now a clear difference in average temperatures, we can expect this trend to continue, provided we continue to make sure the experience our guests receive is a safe, positive, and memorable one.
Next Saturday, March 12th, we’ll have our first lifeguard tryouts and lifeguard academy of the year. Information can be found on our website if you know anyone that’s interested. The 9 day academy is intense, and many of our potential guards who are students don’t want to “give up” their spring break. But for those who have the right stuff and are committed, it’s a very rewarding experience. Transforming people into beach guards in such a short time is painful, but when they come out on the other side they have all the tools they need to join the team that comprises Galveston’s designated lifeguard service.
The 12th is also the first day for the beach parks to open. The park staff also has quite a bit of training to go through before they’re ready to meet the onslaught of tourists. The Beach Patrol teaches CPR and First Aid to them, as well as the other Park Board employees that work with the public. They also go through a course to become Certified Tourist Ambassadors, so they are not only customer friendly, but know enough about the island to answer basically any question.
So it’s time to get out there and have some fun! But remember to swim near a lifeguard, follow the recommendations of signs and flags, avoid swimming near groins, piers, or the ends of the island, and take precautions for the heat and sun. And remember to use good common sense and keep an eye on friends and family. You’re the first line of defense. The lifeguards provide an extra layer of protection if you miss anything.
See you on the beach!