Somehow it all came together for Memorial Day weekend.

The beach cleaning crews worked from midnight until people started crowding the beaches in the morning to remove the sargassum from the shoreline.

By first light, the beaches looked pretty good.

We finished the last little part of the new lifeguard training Friday night, and the rookie lifeguards hit the beaches early Saturday morning for their first shifts.

They were joined halfway through by the returning guards, who used their experience to take the more difficult afternoon and evening shifts.

The beach security detail was heavily staffed and did an admirable job of dealing with the thousands who visited the parks.

Lost child details were at designated sites, dispatchers were trained and in place, beach vendors had all their equipment out, and park staff was hired, trained and ready to go.

EMS, fire and police were fully staffed and out in force.

All the pieces were in place, and we needed every one of them.

From the time we started on Saturday morning until we crawled home late Monday night, it was nonstop.

Sunday was the peak, and there seemed to be so many people on the island that their combined weight would make it sink.

On Sunday alone, we had more than 40 calls for lost children.

During the weekend, we made almost 3,000 preventive actions where people were moved from dangerous areas.

The Park Board park security detail did an admirable job of clearing well more than 20,000 people from the two largest beach parks at the end of the day before they left.

This kept us from getting called back in for drownings, fights or other problems throughout the night.

The San Luis Pass was a hot spot.

The police department worked hard to keep all the four-wheelers and motorbikes under control while we struggled to get hundreds of would-be swimmers to stay out of the dangerous waters that claimed four lives this time last year.

Our new detail worked really, really hard and removed just short of a thousand people from the waters of the pass during the three-day holiday.

The members of the detail also spoke with about 1,500 tourists about the dangers of the area, where it is safe to swim out there, and offered information about the island attractions.

Elbow grease wasn’t the only thing that helped things to go well.

Fate smiled on our island by somehow halting the seemingly relentless flow of seaweed we’ve gotten lately.

The sun shown, the rain went elsewhere, and we had a refreshing breeze.

We had few serious problems and, despite the half-million visitors, no drownings.

As I drove to the beach smelling the familiar barbecue, suntan lotion and saltwater combination so unique to Galveston this time of year, I saw kids and parents, lovers, friends and people seeking solitude, all enjoying a place that enables them take time away from their daily stresses and focus on more important things for a little while.

It’s a magic place.

On the Beach

Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity. Information on the Beach Patrol is at galvestonbeachpatrol.com.

(1) comment

Steve Fouga

Mr. Davis's Beach Patrol is clearly one of the Island's most effective and well-run organizations. It consistently does a fine job keeping tourists and citizens safe. I enjoy seeing the Beach Patrol's yellow-and-red vehicles around town, and GIBP signs on dashboards along the seawall. An excellent group of young people doing a great job under top-notch leadership.

And Mr. Davis is a fine writer as well. [thumbup]

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