A young boy and girl lay on a small sand dune. They were 3 or 4 years old and looked to be brother and sister. Although the day wasn’t hot, the sand was nice and warm once the sun peeked out. They jabbered at each other while they piled the sand up and rolled around.

A man who looked to be their dad looked on from just the right distance. Close enough to make sure they were safe, but far enough to give them the space to explore and discover.

As part of my routine, I often get tacos and eat them on the beach somewhere on the west seawall. When we get busy, we end up going from crisis to crisis. When we’re not so strapped, there’s always work waiting for me in my office or in my mobile office (truck).

I like eating on the beach and watching people that are just out there enjoying themselves, like these two children.

Taking a few minutes to remind myself what an important space the beach provides for so many people helps to keep perspective. So much of our lives as coastal dwellers are punctuated by moments on the beach. People come for solace, to commune with nature, for exercise and sport, to share moments together, to have some time alone or just to enjoy being out there on a beautiful day.

I couldn’t help but think how I could be witnessing a moment for this particular family that they’d remember for the rest of their lives. For that matter, any number of the thousands of people who visited the beach over Easter weekend (or any day on the beach) could be having that kind of moment.

Looking back, Easter has at times been a huge event for us with loads of rescues, lost children, medical emergencies, etc. But not this past weekend. Not to say that there weren’t many people here. The entire island was full of people, and there were plenty of people on the beach.

We were steady — but not slammed. All told, we made more than 3,000 preventative actions: five medical responses, 118 enforcement actions, two lost children reunited with parents and one rescue. Comparing this to previous years and looking at the crowd, there was one factor that made the difference.

With the water temperature being in the mid-60s, it was just cold enough to keep people from staying in the water for long periods of time. They would get in, swim around for a bit, then get out and warm up. This took the burden off the guards.

Three-thousand people moved from rocks is plenty of work for our staff, but nothing like the 5,000 to 7,000 people we’d have moved if the water was just a few degrees warmer. This little “buffer” won’t last long as we’re quickly approaching the magic number for water temperature at 70 degrees.

Once we hit 70, any time there’s people on the beach and warm air, we’ll get real busy real fast.

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.

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Bailey Jones

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