Camping season kicks off at Connecticut’s state parks
(WFSB) - The holiday weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer and the kickoff to the camping season at Connecticut’s state parks.
After what was a Memorial Day weekend washout last year, campers are looking forward to some nice weather once the rain moves through Friday night.
Connecticut has 14 state park campgrounds, and according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), all of them are fully booked for the holiday weekend.
At Hammonasset in Madison, that means more than 500 campsites, and for those that have been showing up there for years with their families and friends, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The family time, the kids go, go to the beach, they love it,” said Michelle Buccheri of Stafford. “The family time, the kids go, go to the beach, they love it.”
“The outdoors, the camaraderie, the campfire and the s’mores, who doesn’t like s’mores?” said Chris Baril of Meriden. “We have 13 sites here, been coming here for 40 years, same sites every year, so we’re waiting for the rest of the family to show up.”
While it’s the start of the camping season, Connecticut is also highlighting its summer tourism as well.
Eyewitness News ran into folks from New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, even as far away as Germany Friday enjoying Hammonnasset.
The state says these parks are a big draw, but they feel the state has something for everyone.
Setting up their camper, Hedda Mastrobuono and her husband have been camping at Hammonasset for 50 years.
“We’re here for 3 weeks, then we go home for 5, come back for 3,” said Mastrobuono, of Mahopac, New York.
For this couple, the folks here are like an extended family.
“We have a lot of friends, that camp here with us, we’re kind of a group,” Mastrobuono said.
Connecticut says about 13 million visited its state parks last year, making them the largest tourism destination in the state.
“Alright, France has got the Riviera, but they don’t have Hammonasset Park right here and they’re jealous as can be,” said Governor Ned Lamont.
The numbers climbed the past two years with the pandemic with people wanting to get out and explore.
The state expects the same this summer, with the governor adding a new ad campaign, is telling tourists and their dollars and even residents, to find your vibe.
“The theory is there is a little bit of something for everybody here in this state, from the home of the pizza to right here at the gorgeous beaches and everything in between,” said Lamont.
For those who call Connecticut home, the popular Passport to Parks program, which thanks to a $15 fee when you register your car with the DMV, makes a day at the beach free.
“I was thinking a few days ago I hadn’t been to a beach here in over 30 years and it might be a good way to recharge and let go,” said Eric Fleming of West Hartford.
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