MADISON, CT (WFSB) -- A holiday weekend featuring nice weather is expected to bring full capacities at state parks across Connecticut.
Two hours before Hammonasset State Park even opened, cars were already lined up waiting to get inside.
State parks across the state are expected to reach capacity as folks head out for the holiday weekend.
As of Saturday at 01:15 p.m., the following state parks had reached parking capacity:
- Hammonasset Beach State Park - Madison
- Rocky Neck State Park - East Lyme
- Bigelow Hollow State Park - Union
- Scantic River State Park, Powder Hollow - Enfield
- Millers Pond State Park - Haddam
- Gardner Lake State Park - Salem
- Wadsworth Falls State Park - Middletown
- Burr Pond State Park - Torrington
- Sherwood Island State Park - Westport
- Sleeping Giant State Park - Hamden
- Silver Sands State Park - Milford
- Southford Falls State Park - Southbury
- Harkness Memorial State Park - Waterford
- Satan's Kingdom State Park - New Hartford
The Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection put safety measures in place well before the holiday weekend, with daily capacity limits, social distancing guidelines for visitors, and the use of face coverings.
DEEP continues to permit swimming only at shoreline state parks at this time, not inland state park swim areas.
Parks, especially along the shoreline, also continue to operate at lower capacity levels, to ensure social distancing and prevent overcrowding.
In an effort to keep guests safe, DEEP said people should maintain 15 feet, blanket-to-blanket, of space from other beachgoers. Officials said this will allow for a 6 foot radius around each person or family, and a 3 foot walkway between groups.
Also, guests should bring face coverings with them and use them when they are in proximity of others. However, face coverings shouldn’t be worn in the water.
“We're waiting for this for a couple of weeks now,” said Kyle Telford of West Haven.
A day at the beach was just what Telford and his relatives Shanequa and Quinteira Frazier needed.
“It gives us a time because we've been stuck in the house for so long and we can enjoy the weather, beach, we're going to cook out a little later,” he said.
They even got prime seating this year.
“Last time we came it was kind of crammed up, so we got a nice little spot now,” Shanequa Frazier said.
“We thought it was going to be more packed,” Telford said.
When you’re on the beach it might look like there’s still some room left for more people to join in, but officials gauge capacity based on parking spaces. So once all of these spaces filled up, the park gets closed.
Hammonasset Beach State Park reached capacity before noon, like several other state parks.
The Hart’s worried they wouldn’t make it in time.
“We usually are in Florida this time, but that's okay as long as we're here we're satisfied,” Lisa Hart of Middletown said.
Boat patrols served as a reminder for families to stay safe on the water.
Back on shore, families took measures to stay healthy from face masks to hand sanitizer.
“I even set up a perimeter, not that that will work, but just to let our neighbors know we're practicing distance,” Hart said.
Those we spoke with said this is Connecticut’s reward for following the rules to keep everyone safe.
For more information and a list of state park closures, click here.