Crowds expected on Tybee beaches over Labor Day weekend

People heading to Tybee Island beaches to begin the Labor Day weekend.
People heading to Tybee Island beaches to begin the Labor Day weekend.(WTOC)
Updated: Sep. 4, 2020 at 3:34 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Large crowds are expected on Tybee Island beaches for the Labor Day weekend.

Tybee Island Fire Department Interim Fire Chief Matt Harrell said the lifeguards will be keeping a watchful eye.

In addition to the COVID-19 prevention tips that are on everyone’s mind this year, like maintaining social distance, Chief Harrell said everyone should remember general beach safety tips as well.

In the last two weeks, two people have died after drowning on Tybee. Harrell said the best thing for people to do to stay safe, is to try to swim as close to a lifeguard stand as possible. It’s also encouraged to avoid going in the water as soon as it gets dark.

If you do run into an issue while you’re in the water, Harrell says to stay calm, flip onto your back, float and try to wave for help. When you’re going onto the beach, Harrell reminds people of a few things, which includes checking out what color flag the lifeguards are flying. These will tell you the kind of water condition for that day.

“Pay attention to the flag, pay attention to the area you’re in. Know where you’re at. If you’re at 8th Street or 14th Street, kind of know where you’re at so if you see something you can call 911 and you can give them an idea. Another big thing is, we know everybody is going to be celebrating the holiday, everybody’s going to be having a good time, but try to be really careful of how much alcohol you consume because that can actually really take effect on a good swimmer having a hard time out there,” Harrell said.

Tybee City Manager Shawn Gillen says he expects both Saturday and Sunday to be busy days. The crowds have already been making their way in Friday, especially because of how beautiful the weather is.

After talking with several people at the beach, they say they knew they wanted to get away from everything and have a relaxing holiday weekend. They say they chose the beach because it does make it easy for people to stay with their own groups and spread out away from others.

“My strategy is to avoid the crowds entirely and being at the beach, there’s enough air flow and there’s enough separation,” said visitor Andrew Wendt.

“Social distancing on a beach is so easy, it’s a breeze. I mean you’ve got the water, plenty of room. Not worried about it,” said visitor Todd Goodwin.

While the crowds still might be coming out, the city has cancelled the fireworks show typically held on Labor Day and there aren’t any other scheduled events.

Just two weeks ago, a new business opened its doors on Tybee. The owner of Beau & Arrow’s Frozen Yogurt says it’s the first frozen yogurt place to open on the island.

Beau & Arrow’s Frozen Yogurt opened during a pandemic and the owner says business has been slow. However, she says she’s excited to see what this weekend brings for her business.

Owner Angela Cooper says something that wasn’t easy was opening during a pandemic, but it went more smoothly than she expected. While it would typically be self-serving, her employees are doing the serving to keep up with safety guidelines.

Cooper says she has brought on more staff for this weekend and has an extra load of products coming in to make sure they have enough for everyone who walks in the door.

“I’m really hoping that everybody that, you know, comes in for the weekend sees us and sees that we have yogurt on the island. It hasn’t been here before. I think it’s going to be a good weekend. I know there’s a lot of people coming in. We actually have a lady who works here with us part time. She works at one of the hotels on the island and she said that they’re sold out,” Cooper said.

The business is open every day of the week except Mondays.

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