Blue skies, at last. Beach-worthy temperatures, at last. After a gloomy, grey and often cold spring, and despite early forecasts of more showers and overcast days, the Fourth of July weekend, a long one that started for many last Wednesday, didn't break any weather records, but it didn't break hearts either.
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Hardy beachgoers could be seen through a dense fog on Main Beach in East Hampton Wednesday morning. The next day, and for the following three, the weather more than cooperated for those with a desire for a dip in the ocean or sunbathing beside the Atlantic.
"It was phenomenal," enthused Paul Monte, president of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce and general manager of Gurney's Inn. "We were filled to the brim, everyone was very busy. We couldn't ask for better weather, which was long overdue after that June."
East Hampton Chamber executive director Marina Van dubbed the weekend "a normal Fourth of July, it was packed." The beach weather was great for paddle boarders and kayakers, she noted. "Everybody was out on the water." More and more people, she said, are calling looking for outlets that feature water sports.
And if your favorite "on the water" sport is fishing, that was booming, too. Out in Montauk the fishing was finest kind. For example, Grand Slam Charter's Facebook page was loaded with pictures of anglers hoisting huge bass.
At Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays Saturday, "I never saw so many people, so many umbrellas there in my life!" exclaimed one year-rounder.
"This was the Hamptons at its best," Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst observed. "Clearly the size of the crowds and all the activities going on reflect that." People needed to be patient getting around, she noted. "We had our share of incidents, but all in all we got through."
East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach echoed Throne-Host. Asked how the weekend went, he was succinct. "We survived. A lot of folks came and went. Those that enjoy this community had a great time. We're happy to get back to a degree of normalcy, if there is normalcy in July," he said Monday morning.
The mayor gave a shout out to the local ambulance corps, which was kept very busy. "They really did a yeoman's job," he said. Village beaches were at capacity, and "Finally, the weather married the holiday weekend," the mayor said.
Throne-Holst offered a report from the annual fireworks in Sag Harbor on Saturday night. "I've never seen a crowd like that. It took 20 minutes to get out of the village afterward, but everyone was in good spirits, the fireworks were beautiful and the weather was perfect."
On Thursday, the fireworks show in Montauk drew a tremendous crowd. "I bet there was more people than we've ever had at a (St. Patrick's Day) parade," offered East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker. "You couldn't shoehorn any more people on the beach." Many spectators reported driving over an hour to exit the fireworks.
Chief Ecker, who is also a member of the fire department and wore his fire police hat that night, said that when they began to set up for the event at 6 PM traffic near the Old Montauk Highway merge was bumper to bumper going both east and west. At 8 PM, the situation was the same and he heard that by 1 AM, it still took between a half hour to 45 minutes to get through the area.
Cops were "so busy" all weekend, the chief reported. There were a total of 40 arrests and 682 parking tickets issued townwide over the weekend.
Returning to the topic of the "perfect" summer weather, Monte called it "well deserved" after a rainy June, adding, "Hopefully it stays this way for the next 75 days."
The next 75 will be jam-packed with benefits and fairs, carnivals and catches of the day, and, if Monte's wish comes true, plenty of sun to go with the fun.