CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Memorial Day weekend is officially underway and tourism industry leaders are expecting nothing short of large crowds.
In fact, projections from 'Visit Corpus Christi' indicate the city could see as many as 40,000 visitors.
It's an encouraging sign for the South Texas tourism industry as more folks have their eyes set to visit the Coastal Bend this Memorial Day weekend which is also the unofficial kickoff to summer.
The bayfront was already buzzing with activity on Friday and so was North Beach.
"We went to Galveston last year and decided we come a little further down the coast and the Lexington was my main goal," said Monte Weldon who is visiting from Tyler, Texas.
Popular attractions like the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum are also expecting a payoff.
"40,000 visitors is a pretty big number which is actually overnight stays, so that does not include people who are coming here on a day trip." said America Segura with Visit Corpus Christi.
At the visitor information center at Water Street Market phones have been ringing off the hook as folks look for quick vacation advice.
"A lot of people asking about what there is to do here. People want to know about events, about restaurants," said Segura.
There will be plenty of activities to choose from. Folks began lining up even before the gates opened as the Corpus Christi Hooks took the field as the 'Blue Ghosts' this weekend, all to pay tribute to the USS Lexington.
The Lex will also be hosting a special batting practice for already selected members of the military Saturday as well as a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday.
"People want to get out again, people want to get out and celebrate the freedom of maybe not wearing their mask, being vaccinated, coming to the games, excited to see baseball back, hitting the tourist attractions in town good for the city and good for Texans," said the USS Lexington Museum's executive director Steve Banta.
Traffic Changes on the Island
The City has a traffic management plan for the expected increase in visitors who may come to Padre Island via Park Road 22.
The Corpus Christi Police Department will be monitoring traffic flow on Aquarius Street and other key intersections along Park Road 22, including Whitecap Boulevard, Commodores Drive, and State Highway 361 on the main route to Port Aransas.
Motorists should expect delays and are advised to leave early for their destinations.
Increased Officers for Beach Patrols and DWI Enforcement
CCPD will have patrol units on the beach during the day and extra DWI enforcement at night.
City Manager Peter Zanoni said that extra emergency vehicles will also be stationed on the island.
He said they've even made plans for emergency vehicles on the beach itself.
"On the beach, there will be a dedicated public safety road if you will, or lane, a public safety lane for either a fire, or police or ambulance vehicles," Zanoni said.
Beach Safety and Rip Current Warnings
Rip currents can be deadly. Beach safety is important.
Corpus Christi will have new lifeguard stands on Gulf beaches, and visitors should observe and follow the flag warning system to be aware of surf and rip conditions. The flags are located throughout the beach and at lifeguard stands.
"Definitely don't want to get next to the rocks," said Quinn Hendrick, a local surfer. "One, they're hard, they're sharp, they're nasty, there's all kinds of fishhooks and stuff on them, but then that current as well. You find yourself in it, it'll take you the whole length of the jetty in a matter of moments".
Even though we might not hear about it too often, surfers often have to jump into rescue mode when swimmers get caught by rip currents.
If you do get caught in a rip current remember, WAVE, YELL and SWIM PARALLEL. Also, if you need to rest, float.
"Float don't fight," said Fire Chief Dale Scott. "You're gonna wear yourself, so either swim parallel to the shore or tread water until you get out of the rip current."
City parks, swimming pools, and splash pads will be open with free admission.
No Excuse Weekend
Have a plan if you plan to drink this holiday weekend. This includes having a designated driver.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need a ride, call Apollo Towing for a FREE tow and ride home in Corpus Christi, Portland and Robstown.
The annual program is available 24 hours a day beginning 6 p.m. Friday, May 28, through 6 p.m. Monday, May 31.
Save this information: Those needing assistance are encouraged to “take the worry away” by calling (361) 853-0003 to arrange a pickup.
Prior to COVID-19, the NO EXCUSE program, now in its ninth year, had already assisted more than 600 drivers in the Texas Coastal Bend with free tows. Criteria for a free NO EXCUSE ride/tow includes:
- Tows must be conducted IN Corpus Christi, Portland, or Robstown zip code areas
- Towed vehicle MUST be operational (not wrecked/broken down)
- Apollo Towing Service will transport vehicle and driver ONLY (limited space for passengers)
- Driver MUST have keys for vehicle being towed and not show signs of COVID-19 illness
- Operators WILL assist each NO EXCUSES customer in/out of tow truck
- Operators MAY NOT charge for NO EXCUSES tows
- Drivers should call (361) 853-0003 to arrange pickup (requests answered in the order received)
- No questions asked
City of Corpus Christi Holiday Schedule
Most City of Corpus Christi offices, including City Hall, Public Libraries, and Municipal Court, will be closed Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) will have seven ferries operating in Port Aransas during the holiday weekend. For the latest information, wait times follow their Twitter page here.
For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.
More from 3News on KIIITV.com:
- May 25, 2021 is officially 'Joe Gazin Day' in Corpus Christi
- Alligator from Louisiana shows up on Padre Island National Seashore
- A look at the homeless tent city in downtown Corpus Christi
- Corpus Christi native publishes book to help normalize disabilities, becomes best selling author
- IRS: Texans affected by winter storm have until June 15 to file taxes
- Ages 12 and older can now get the COVID-19 vaccine in Nueces County. Here's what you need to know.