Multi-colored fireworks lit up the night sky along the South County on the Fourth of July evening, but that excited energy didn’t translate into overcrowded beaches on Sunday.
An overcast morning and county-wide beach “passive recreation” ban didn’t stop some families from toting their umbrellas and lawn chairs to Carpinteria State Beach, though most beachgoers were walking, jogging, swimming or taking part in an activity.
According to Santa Barbara County statistics, the county has 3,406 COVID-19 cases, as of Saturday. Cottage Health is caring for 253 patients across all campuses. Spokeswoman Maria Zate said 201 patients are acute care patients and 172 acute care beds remain available.
On Sunday afternoon, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office helicopter flew out to Santa Claus lane because of the crowds. The crew used a loudspeaker to remind beachgoers that the beaches were closed.
Some people packed up and left, but most were indifferent and continued to enjoy the surf and sand in spite of the warning.
The Linden Avenue side of the beach drew smaller crowds, possibly due to drastic parking restrictions, including two-hour parking limits and parking closures near the beach and on portions of Concha Loma Drive.
A handful of family groups were spread out along the water and others lined up outside the beachfront properties on Sandyland Road.
Don Alessi said he came to visit Carpinteria from Lancaster with his two sons and seven grandchildren. Mr. Alessi has been visiting Carpinteria for almost 40 years.
“We do this every year, we come for one week a year. With all the problems, we didn’t know until the last minute that we could come. This is not really bad. If everything was actually really closed, we wouldn’t be here. We love the town. It’s not a hustle and bustle place,” Mr. Alessi said. He said he used to take his children camping at the nearby campground when they were young.
“They all love it here,” he said
The city of Carpinteria closed off a section of Linden Avenue and set up picnic tables so visitors could support local restaurants and enjoy a takeout meal with their families, despite county-wide dining room closures.
Patti Reaber enjoyed a quiet lunch from Reynaldo’s Mexican Bakery with her family at one of the tables.
“The weather is beautiful, there’s freedom you know, you can have a pleasant lunch. We’re from Santa Clarita. This is the second time I’ve been here since 1974, if you can believe it,” Ms. Reaber said.
She explained that her other family members visit Carpinteria regularly.
Linette Marsh enjoyed a pizza lunch with her two young children at a table across the street from Ms. Rebar’s group.
“We live here by Concha Loma and we were out on a bike ride. We didn’t know that these (tables) were open. We were excited to see them and we wanted to support local businesses, so we bought a pizza,” Ms. Marsh said.
She added that she would continue to use the tables if the city left them out past Fourth of July weekend.
While the outdoor dining area provided some restaurant traffic, Seastrand women’s clothing store owner Taylor Rice said that business was slow.
“I was looking at previous years this morning and it has definitely been slowing. Usually this time of year we have a ton of tourists. They all want to spend their money and I have tons of foot traffic,” Ms. Rice said.
She added that she has regular customers from all over the state, but many haven’t visited Carpinteria this season. Seastrand is located at 919 Linden Ave. #2044.
The Grapeseed Company gift shop, at 961 Linden Ave in Carpinteria, had a busy weekend, according to sales representative Kelly Kite. Ms. Kite said the shop’s scented-hand sanitizer has been flying off the shelves.
“We were gonna close on the fourth, but we decided to stay open. It worked out and I was surprised with the beaches being closed. The hand sanitizer has essential oils in it. It smells really good and it has an ingredient that makes your hands really soft,” Ms. Kite said.
“I was a little nervous just knowing all the people were coming in from out of town, but it worked out perfectly where the flow was great,” Ms. Kite said.