Summer of 2021 is officially here and businesses along Connecticut's shoreline say they are ready for a more normal summer.
“We should be happy that we are going to have a good season," said Jerry Vowles, the co-owner of The Carousel Shop in Old Lyme.
Last summer the shop opened in take-out style, selling beach items through a window. Shoppers were mostly kept out of the store. The family also made the decision to keep their carousel ride closed last year. It was the first time the ride didn't run for the season since 1948.
The carousel is back up and spinning today. Vowles said he has noticed an increase in traffic.
"No rules, they can just come on in," said Vowles.
Ocean Beach Park in New London is also having a busy season.
“We are up 26% from 2019, which was the best year we ever had, so the pent up demand is real," said David Sugrue, who manages Ocean Beach.
Their biggest challenge this year has been hiring.
"Like everybody else is going through, but we are doing better, I think, than many. We have had enough people to get everything open," said Sugrue.
Team members have been working extra shifts and longer hours. They usually have a team of 150. They are about 40 people short.
"We’ve got a lot of people bringing their friends to work, networking looking for other people to come and help them so they don’t have to work as hard. Little by little it’s all coming together," said Sugrue. “This is easy compared to last year."
With a busy summer ahead, local law enforcement agencies want to make sure people are being safe.
Old Saybrook Police will be one of the many agencies patrolling on the water this summer. They say it is important that all boaters know the rules and regulations including where no wake zones are and the importance of having life jackets on board.
“Things come at you very quick and you do have to be very mindful of the safety on the water," said Captain Jeffrey DePerry with the Old Saybrook Police Department. “We are happy to have you out there enjoying our resources, we just want to make sure that you do it safely.”
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is also urging everyone to read up on all safety requirements before going on the water. They are reminding kayakers to always have a life jacket as well. According to DEEP, three kayakers have died in Connecticut this season.
“They are a regulation so make sure you have them and they are really important. They save people’s lives every year," said Jacob Budris with DEEP.