As with any holiday weekend, Manatee County marine rescue officials are anticipating large crowds on the beaches this Fourth of July weekend.
All lifeguard towers on Coquina Beach and Manatee Public Beach will be staffed, and crews will be out on the water beginning Saturday through Monday, said Joe Westerman, Manatee County’s marine rescue chief.
“It is just for the public safety,” he said.
Since the holiday falls on a Monday this year, they are anticipating crowds to be at the peak on Sunday, Westerman said.
“We typically see higher crowd volumes when on a Friday or Monday attached to that weekend,” he said. “Sunday will be a little more elevated than Monday but because Monday is the actual holiday and there will be fireworks, I am anticipating higher crowds than normal on a Monday.”
There is going to be congestion this weekend, said Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.
“You are already in paradise so take your time and expect delays so you don’t stress yourself out,” he said.
While the forecast is currently calling for the water to be “calm, surfless,” Westerman said beachgoers should check the flags at the lifeguard towers for the most updated conditions. Red is high hazard, yellow is medium hazard, green is low hazard and purple is dangerous marine life.
“We are here to advise the public as well as save them if they get in distress,” Westerman said. “I would also encourage people to come to a lifeguarded beach no matter their swimming ability. Swim at a lifeguarded beach whether that be Coquina Beach or Manatee Beach.”
Alcohol is not permitted on the beaches and visitors should remember to stay hydrated, Westerman said.
“A lot of the emergencies we see on hot summer days revolve around just staying hydrated,” he said.
Exploding, launching or projecting fireworks are illegal, as are sky lanterns are illegal, Tokajer said.
“Our officers will be confiscating fireworks and people could be issued a fine up to $500,” he said.
Beginning Saturday, the Holmes Beach Police Department will have extra patrol, Tokajer said, adding that glass bottles, alcohol and open fire and grills aren’t allowed on the beach. Grills are allowed in the designated area by the Manatee Public Beach.
“We will have extra patrol working on the beach, as well as the parking areas, for the safety and security for residents and visitors,” he said. “It is a family friendly atmosphere and we want to keep it that way.”