Beachgoers advised to head to state parks early - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Beachgoers advised to head to state parks early

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Mt. Tom State Park in Litchfield filled to capacity by early Sunday afternoon. (WFSB) Mt. Tom State Park in Litchfield filled to capacity by early Sunday afternoon. (WFSB)
MIDDLEFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

Tens of thousands of beachgoers hit state parks on Monday, leading many to fill up quickly.

Many residents decided to head to the parks early.

"We're going to hit the beach early," said Marisol Lopez of Stafford Springs. "I want my spot."

Many of them heeded the warning and were on the road a little after 7 a.m. in hopes of snagging the best spots before the crowds arrived. A few said they woke up as early as 5 a.m.

Aida Rosado of Newington was one of them and showed up early to Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic.

"I also like to enjoy the view, so the closer I am to the water, I embrace it," she told Eyewitness News. "I just love the ocean."

Over the weekend, several, including Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middlefield, hit capacity by early afternoon.

Mt. Tom State Park in Litchfield was another. Officials said it reached capacity by 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Families came out in force to enjoy the sunshine.

Shoreline spots like Rocky Neck also filled up early on Sunday.

That's why officials urged people to get there early on Monday. They said the parks could fill up even faster.

"I'm just going to take full advantage if I can today," said Xheme Tahirha of Vernon. "I might get a little burned but that's ok."

"The earlier you get here the better," Rosado said. "Plus parking and also travel. It took me 40 minutes to get here."

Burr Pond in Torrington was closed because of high bacteria concerns. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it is scheduled to reopen on Friday.

The shoreline was also bustling with beachgoers.

McCook Point Park in Niantic reached parking capacity late this morning, while Cheney Park took the overflow.

That too filled up fast.

"It's nice down here and I like to watch all the boats come in and out...so it's a lot of fun," said Liz, an East Hampton resident.

Not only is there parking on the beach and the opportunity to watch vessels of all sizes cruise in and out of the channel, but regulars like Niantic resident Steve Hamilton walk the boardwalk for daily exercise.

"[There is] a very nice breeze especially under the bridge over here. We like it a lot. There are a lot of regulars here," Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, sun bathers were slathering on the lotion at McCook Park, where parking was filled to capacity.

"We're really concerned with making sure that our beaches aren't over crowded, that there's a kind of order maintained...and our biggest issue becomes traffic and parking," East Lyme police chief Michael Finkelstein said.

For updates on the statuses of state parks, refresh this page and watch Eyewitness News.

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