Mild holiday crowds enjoy Malibu

File photo: beach crowd at Surfrider.

Local law enforcement officials say, other than the Fourth of July fire at Malibu Creek State Park, the holiday weekend remained quite.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

The Independence Day holiday weekend brought approximately 515,000 visitors to Malibu’s beaches, seeking relief from warm, muggy temperatures.

Lifeguard Captain Merrill Riley of the Zuma Beach Lifeguard Headquarters characterized beach activity for Friday, which saw an estimated 198,000 visitors from Corral Beach up to Zuma, as “fairly easy.”

“We had about 130,000 people here at Zuma on Friday,” Riley said. “But the surf was sort of small and the rip currents weren’t pulling that strong. We had 58 total water rescues. It was a standard busy weekend day.”

About 11:30 am Friday, there was a report at Zuma Beach that a swimmer was missing, galvanizing a quick pass by helicopters and the launching of lifeguard crews. However, Riley said, “About an hour later, the [missing] guy walked up on Point Dume and asked everyone what was going on.”

Riley said there were also 69 incidents requiring medical attention, such as minor cuts to body surfers wiping out onshore.

“There were only about eight incidents we characterize as ‘major,’ meaning you have to fill out forms or send someone to the doctor,” Riley said.

The holiday visitors were generally well behaved as well. Officer Leon Hines of the public affairs office of the California Highway Patrol said, “We saw absolutely no problems with traffic or parking in the Malibu area. Everything was very calm, fortunately.”

Malibu / Lost Hills Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Weber, who on Monday did not yet have statistics available from any incident reports, said the weekend was “pretty quiet.”

“We’ve had crazier weekends [in the past],” he said.

The major incident was Friday’s fire, he said, which, “luckily, turned to be a non-issue.”

Lifeguard Captain Riley said there were a few beach incidents he referred to as “domestic disputes” and a report of some “inappropriate photography.”

When asked if that meant paparazzi activity similar to the beach fracas of last month, Riley said, laughing, “No, this was just someone taking photos of young kids,” he said. “We told him to stop.”

Malibu revelers were treated to two fireworks displays this year. The city does not sponsor such displays but local residents file permits to rent barges that anchor off the coastline from which fireworks are launched.

This year, displays were viewable from the beaches near the Malibu Pier and Malibu Colony and included images of smiley faces and peace symbols.

As the sun was setting, indication of the fire that had started about 3:30 Friday afternoon in Malibu Creek State Park was visible as a trace of red haze above the ocean horizon.

“I guess fire doesn’t take a break for the holidays,” Ledia Trujillo from Culver City said.

Trujillo had brought her two children to enjoy the beach and watch the fireworks “someplace cooler” than her neighborhood. “Do Malibu firemen ever take time off?” she asked.

Independence Day had different meanings for different beach-going celebrants. Eric Hannah, a business consultant and currency broker from Burbank, who captained a rigorous beach volleyball game, was also celebrating his birthday.

“I just signed my divorce papers yesterday,” Hannah said, triumphantly. “This is the best Independence Day I’ve had in a long time.”