Summer starts with a jump
The numbers are still being tabulated, so let’s go with observation.
Memorial Day, the beginning of the summer season, jumped out of the gate with plenty of gusto.
The beaches and vacation rentals filled, the stores stayed busy and the restaurants did brisk business, though mostly carry-out or sidewalk dining, and there was almost normalcy, at least for a weekend.
“It was really, really busy,” said Kelli Godwin, executive director of the Gulf County Tourist Development Council. “It seemed like everybody had a fun and healthy Memorial Day.
“Hopefully that will lead to a good summer.”
County staff, including Godwin, Assistant Administrator Warren Yeager and attorney Jeremy Novak, worked almost overnight to submit a roadmap to reopening the beaches after Gov. Ron DeSantis informed counties they could apply.
Rep. Jason Shoaf (R-Port St. Joe) helped push the plan the governor’s way.
And it did not hurt that Halsey Beshears, who once sat in Shoaf’s seat, head the Department of Business and Professional Regulation which had to approve each county’s plan.
In any case, by mid-week last week the green light was given and vacation rental companies were back in business.
And it did not take visitors long to transform this area into the not-exactly-Forgotten Coast.
“The guests are back in force on our beautiful Cape beaches,” said resident Phil Dohmen.
Not all was smooth as the weather, as attested to by Jody Daniels, head of EMS.
“It was an interesting, interesting weekend,” he said. “We pretty much had four trucks on the road at all times.”
Sheriff Mike Harrison said his staff was also busy, but nothing unexpected.
“We were busy due to call volume and EMS calls and all that, but it wasn’t a lot risk related,” Harrison said. “But we did have a busy weekend just because of the calls.”
The department, he added, put a few people in jail due to warrants and drugs, but it was a busy weekend but “everything is going okay.”
The boat parking lot at the Frank Pate boat ramp in Port St. Joe was almost an event unto itself.
At one time, there were over 100 trailers counted in the area of the ramp and as far away George Core Park, nearly to the Cape San Blas Lighthouse.
Visitor or resident, the holiday weekend was a time of enjoyment after months of stress and closures.
“The beauty and happiness the Cape brings my family is like nothing else,” said Erica Williams.