This Friday, Galveston will celebrate its lifeguards at its annual barbecue fundraiser. The event is open to all in the community who wish to support the men and women who keep beachgoers safe.

And our lifeguards definitely hit the ground running during Memorial Day Weekend — the kickoff to summer tourism season. Over the three-day weekend, members of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol performed more than 18,000 preventative actions (moving swimmers from danger, but not making physical contact), 15 rescues, 24 medical responses, reunited 16 lost children with their parents and made contact with 4,235 people to provide beach water safety talks.

Funds raised at the event go toward college scholarships, purchasing equipment and to help offset expenses related to traveling for competitive training. The barbecue fundraiser will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at 24th and Postoffice streets and will feature live music and great food. Meal tickets cost $15 each and are available at The Press Box, Ohana, Surf Specialties or from any lifeguard.

“I’m so proud of our lifeguards who show up early to train before a full day of work,” Peter Davis, chief of the beach patrol, said. “Some of them are out in the middle of the night responding to boating accidents, lost people, possible drownings and all kinds of summer madness.”

Also taking place during the fundraiser is the Tourism Pays event originally planned to take place last month and was rescheduled because of weather. The event is intended to encourage the community to learn about the positive economic impacts of tourism on the island.

These impacts were detailed in a 2018 report. According to the report, tourism sustained nearly a third of all jobs on the island and saved homeowners more than $4,000 in taxes. Thanks to a robust tourism industry, $49.6 million in local tax revenue went to the city of Galveston’s General Fund.

Tourism Pays will also give the local community an up-close look at some of the high-end equipment used to maintain beaches and protect human and marine life. On display in the parking lot of Coastal Credit Union will be the beach patrol’s new multi-purpose flood-response vehicle, Coastal Zone Management’s surf rakes and refuse trucks, seawall parking Segways, a rescue truck used to transport injured marine mammals, plus firetrucks and ambulances.

“These events offer opportunities for the general public to gain a deeper understanding of the important role the Galveston Park Board plays in providing necessary resources to its visitors and residents alike,” Kelly de Schaun, executive director of the Park Board, said. “And, the events offer some fun fellowship to further unite our island community.”

Park board meetings are typically at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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