Parking lots at state parks close after being filled to capacity - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Parking lots at state parks close after being filled to capacity

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Ocean Beach State Park filled to capacity on Tuesday. (WFSB) Ocean Beach State Park filled to capacity on Tuesday. (WFSB)
Drivers were turned away after the lot at Hammonasset Beach State Park was filled to capacity on Tuesday. (WFSB) Drivers were turned away after the lot at Hammonasset Beach State Park was filled to capacity on Tuesday. (WFSB)
Burr Pond is expected to remain closed until the end of the week due to bacteria levels. (WFSB) Burr Pond is expected to remain closed until the end of the week due to bacteria levels. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

State parks began filling to capacity early Tuesday morning.

Here are the parks that have reached the capacity, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection:

  • Silver Sands in Milford
  • Hopeville Pond State Park in Griswold
  • Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison
  • Kent Falls State Park in Kent
  • Stratton Brook State Park in Simsbury
  • Indian Well State Park in Shelton
  • Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme
  • Mount Tom State Park in Washington Depot
  • Quaddick State Park in Thompson
  • Gardner Lake State Park in Salem
  • Miller's Pond State Park in Durham
  • Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union
  • Pattaconk Lake State Recreation Area in Chester
  • Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown
  • Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield

Some of the state parks were at parking capacity as early as 8 a.m. while Hammonasset Beach State Park was at capacity around noon on Tuesday. DEEP officials communicated the closures via social media. 

"Six a.m. and the line was all the way back," Carmen Martinez, of Waterbury, said who was trying to get into Wadsworth Falls State Park. "And I have to walk over here because the line was terrible and then open at 8 a.m., so I waited two hours to bring my car inside." 

West Haven resident Jennifer Barragga said she was the last vehicle into Miller's Pond and got "to celebrate the Fourth of July."

"Even though I wasn't born here but still something to celebrate with the family," Barragga said. 

Burr Pond State Park in Torrington was off limits to swimmers due to bacteria concerns, but still open for business, according to DEEP. The swimming area is expected to be closed through at least Friday. DEEP said it plans to resample it on Thursday.

Ocean Beach Park in New London, which is owned by the city of New London, and Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, which is owned by the city of New Haven, are closed and filled to capacity. 

Dave Sugrue, who is the manager at Ocean Beach, said Tuesday broke the record books in attendance at the park. Sugrue told Eyewitness News cars were lined up at dawn.

"We've never closed the gate before noon.  This is just an absolute phenomenon," Sugrue said.

 Sugrue estimated that there 13,000 people at Ocean Beach State Park.  Sugrue added days such as Tuesday really help the bottom line. 

The beach, pool and splash park at Ocean Beach Park were all filled with two dozen lifeguards on duty.  The crowds also packed the boardwalk.

"We're glad that we left early because I figured when we got here we'd be parking in the next town over,” Andre Andreas, of Simsbury, said.

Longtime residents said they have never seen crowds like Tuesday’s before.

"I can only speculate it's because of the GPS and people didn't know this route before and now they know,” Jill Johnson, of Waterford, said.

License plates in the lot park at Ocean Beach Park were from Massachusetts, New York as well as Connecticut, all trying to beat the heat and enjoy the holiday.

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Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for more on this story. 

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