Galveston experiences busy weekend for Independence Day

By Samantha Ptashkin - Reporter

GALVESTON, Texas - Sunny skies and a slight breeze brought thousands of visitors to Galveston beaches this Fourth of July.

Beach Patrol spokesperson Peter Davis estimates between 250,000 and 450,000 people will visit the island between July 4 and July 6.

The crowd on Friday included people from Houston, Dallas and even a group of guys who made their way to Texas from London.

Teenager Christian Tate could also be spotted, walking along the beach all day with a yellow snow cone cart. He was hoping to sell 700 to 800 red, white and blue snow cones.

"It's just the tropical colors and a cool treat you have to have on a beach day," Tate said.

Signs of patriotism could also be seen in the sand. People placed miniature American flags next to their beach chairs.

The beach patrol flag was flying green, which meant the water was relatively calm.

"We got really lucky because yesterday we had rough water and last weekend we had a bunch of rescues," Davis said. "But today the water got calm."

Despite the calm conditions, Davis tells Local 2 that beach patrol had to remove about 800 swimmers from dangerous areas in the water.

As of 6 p.m. Friday there was also one near drowning, as well as about 30 children who were lost and found along the beaches.

Besides all the sand castles and food on the grill, visitors couldn't help but notice the mounds of seaweed along the beach.

The Galveston Park Board sent a team of volunteers to the seawall to educate families about the importance of the seaweed.

"The seaweed can stink at times, but it is such a vital part of our ecosystem," said volunteer Brandon Hill. "It's a great way to reduce erosion on the beaches."

The volunteers showed visitors their biological buckets which had different creatures that live in the seaweed, including shrimp and crabs.

The festivities in Galveston will also include a parade along the Seawall and a fireworks show sponsored by the Galveston Park Board.

If you're planning to head to the island over the weekend, remember this is the first Fourth of July where drivers will have to pay to park along the Seawall. Beachgoers have to pay $8 for the day.

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