Tourists pack Oceanfront for Memorial Day weekend

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Thousands of tourists will spend millions of dollars over the Memorial Day weekend, according to the Virginia Beach Convention and Tourism Bureau.

The city of Virginia Beach generates $4 million a day thanks to tourists spending money in the city, says Tiffany Russell.

Businesses like Fresh Squeezed, which serves up lemonade at three stands along the boardwalk, say they are hoping to cash in on the tourists.

“We’ve got big expectations this weekend,” said Wyatt Johnson, who moved to Virginia Beach this summer to start the business. “We’re hoping for thousands and thousands of people to walk on the boardwalk, and we are hoping to make everyone happy.”

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On Friday, droves of people filled the sand and water at the resort beach. The Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service is warning people to swim close to the shoreline and close to lifeguard stands.

Tom Gill tells there are 41 stands staffed from 2nd Street to 42nd Street. There are also lifeguards on watch at Croatan Beach.

“The biggest thing we are looking for are rip currents,” said Gill. “Rip current are very hard to spot; almost Impossible to spot if you are in the water.”

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Gill says his crew has already saved between 20 and 30 people this year. In 2015, lifeguards rescued 777 people, which was up 28 percent from the previous year.

“At the end of the day, our goal has to be safety first, fun second,” said Gill.

Gill says in addition to the rescues, more than 1,300 children were reported missing at the beach last season. He says parents need to always be watching their kids.

Virginia Beach police say they have a plan in place for the holiday weekend, which includes increased patrols on the beach, boardwalk and on Atlantic Avenue. A spokeswoman tells that officers from other patrol areas will be moved to the Oceanfront to better handle the big crowds.

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