Taking liberty to have fun

Recreation: Sandy Point State Park proves to be a hot location for residents this Fourth of July holiday weekend.

July 06, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

With her towel stretched out on the orange sand and waves lapping against her feet, Becky Senior sunbathed yesterday at Sandy Point State Park as her 4-year-old son, Triston, splashed in the water a few feet away with some friends.

"It's Fourth of July weekend, you know, so everybody wants to have fun," Senior, a Bowie resident, said before joining friends Chris Linares, Nicole Condron and others for a mid-afternoon barbecue.

Independence Day may be over, but Senior and thousands of others at Sandy Point and elsewhere around the state continued their holiday celebration yesterday. The party will carry through the weekend for many who are enjoying a four-day weekend filled with fireworks and other holiday events.

With the temperature and humidity lower yesterday than on July 4th, many people headed outdoors to swim, fish and play ball - activities that were limited by the holiday's blistering heat. Others hit the malls for holiday sales and visited with friends. At a picnic table in the shade, Gregory Jackson, a 39-year-old cemetery superintendent from Brandywine, ate hot dogs and baked beans with his wife, Rosalynd, 42, and their 8-year-old daughter, Kymberly.

"Yesterday was terrible," said Jackson, who spent the steamy holiday at the Six Flags amusement park. "Today is great. It's a beautiful day. It's nice and breezy, and the water is warm."

Many people described the Independence Day weather as "oppressive." With temperatures reaching 100 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, humidity made it feel even warmer - about 105, said meteorologist Andy Woodcock with the National Weather Service. Yesterday's temperature peaked at about 91 degrees, but felt cooler because of a strong breeze and low humidity.

"It's just much more comfortable out," Woodcock said.

Hot but dry weather is expected to continue this weekend, with temperatures in the mid-80s today and upper 80s tomorrow, Woodcock said. "It will be gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous."

Taking advantage of the weather, cars were backed up miles before the Bay Bridge toll plaza as families headed to the ocean beaches for the weekend.

At Sandy Point, the traffic was part of the view - a view that those relaxing on the bay's popular park beach were glad to enjoy from a distance.

"It's pretty nice and pretty close," Senior, 18, said of Sandy Point.

Susan Tsacoymis, an industrial psychologist from Burke, Va., brought her family and friends from New York state to the park.

"Since they are landlocked where they are, we thought it would be an opportunity to see a sandy beach without having to go the whole way to the ocean," she said. Her husband, she added, was "stuck at work."

So was Sgt. Fran Gower, park ranger supervisor at Sandy Point. Gower said the park turned away about 800 cars on July 4th after reaching capacity mid-morning with 8,000 to 9,000 visitors. Yesterday's turnout was lower, about 4,500 by late afternoon, but still about 50 percent higher than a normal weekday.

The holiday "hasn't ended yet for us," noted Gower, who was preparing for an even busier weekend. "In this type of field, we tend to work when everyone else plays and play when everyone else works."

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