Local authorities embrace the low-key holiday weekend.
By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times
Memorial Day weekend in Malibu, which traditionally is the kick-off to the summer season, is usually a packed affair, drawing thousands to local beaches, and putting Sheriff’s deputies and lifeguards on high alert.
However, overcast skies and cooler temperatures apparently kept beach-goers at home. In Malibu, temperatures rarely rose beyond the mid- to upper sixties and breezes even kept surfers out of the water.
“This was probably the quietest Memorial Day weekend we’ve had since I’ve been here,” ocean lifeguard specialist John Renaud said. “It was cold. I think gas prices also had something to do with it. It was a beautiful day at Zuma, but no one was here.”
Zuma Beach Lifeguard Station Captain Merrill Riley agreed. “It was as quiet as it’s been in at least two months. By 3 o’clock, it was sunny but cold, and there was no one here at all. Sunday and Monday, we had sunny afternoons, but maybe 60 or 65 degrees.”
Rip tides and smaller surf also contributed to the empty beaches.
“I know it’s pretty anticlimactic,” Riley said. “There were a couple of minor, Band-Aid type injuries, but really not much else. We loved it.”
Traffic was so inconsequential that Deputy I. Lua of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station said they didn’t even assign extra patrols.
“Parking was never an issue,” Lua said. “No one was in Malibu. It was cold.”
Mike Augello, manager at the beachside restaurant, The Reel Inn, said the restaurant’s holiday weekend crowds were lower than in previous years.
“We checked against our records and we were down maybe a third,” Augello said. “It was because it was so cold. Usually our parking lot is so packed that employees have to fight for a spot. This weekend, there was no problem at all.”
Local area parks, however, saw plenty of nature lovers out to celebrate the holiday. Park Ranger Danny Duarte at Topanga State Park said, “Our parking lot was full and there were lots of hikers, picnickers and people mountain biking. We had perfect weather here.”
Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich voiced relief that there were no traffic accidents or ocean fatalities on the traditionally busy holiday weekend.
“It was a beautiful weekend, but pretty quiet,” she said. “On Sunday, I checked the Pavilions parking lot a couple of times and all was quiet on the Western front. There seemed to be plenty of parking.” (The opening last week of Pavilions at the Point Dume Village caused a ruckus, with cars being ticketed and towed because of lack of parking space, and employees and visitors illegally parking.)
“We saw a lot of flags waving,” Conley Ulich said. “It was a very peaceful weekend to remember those in our military who gave everything so that we can enjoy freedom in this country.”
Since the start of the Iraq war five years ago, there have been 4,083 deaths (which includes 11 civilian deaths) and more than 29,000 wounded in action, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.