Friends Meaghan Dwyer, 9, and Autumn Skowrenski, 8, take a flying leap into the cool water of Columbia Lake on Monday afternoon. They are both from Columbia. Photo by Marie Brennan
With a heat wave in the forecast, the gatekeeper at Lisicke Beach on Coventry Lake, Joyce Bonney, is bracing for the inevitable – people trying to skirt town regulations regarding beach usage.
“You should hear the sob stories I hear,” Bonney said of people trying to access the beach without the required permit.
Some like it hot, and those who do will probably be happy this week with anticipated highs in the 90s.
Those who don’t, however, will be looking to keep cool and in Coventry there are two popular options, but only one that’s open to the general public.
Lisicke Beach is only open to residents and a seasonal beach permit is required.
Patriots Park Beach, on the other hand, is open to the general public.
Admission is $10 a day and $17 on weekends for vehicles holding up to five people. Each additional person is $3.
A heat wave is officially defined as three days in a row with temperatures of 90 degrees or above.
That’s exactly what Connecticut Weather Center meteorologist Bill Jacquemin says is in store for the area later this week.
For those who don’t like the heat, the news gets worse.
Not only is Thursday expected to hit a high in the 90s but it’s also supposed to be humid.
“We are just lucky it’s not longterm like it is in the Midwest,” Jacquemin said.
Along with the hottest weather, expected to hit the area Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Jacquemin said to expect scattered thunderstorms and periodic bouts of humidity – right through the weekend.
On Monday, Coventry residents were already working on keeping cool at Lisicke Beach where it is up to Bonney to make sure everyone looking to use the beach is allowed to be there.
Perched under a borrowed lifeguard’s umbrella at the beach’s entrance, Bonney’s job is to check vehicles for resident stickers. No yellow sticker? No beach entry.
For those who do possess a permit – obtainable at the town offices and at Patriots Park Beach – Lisicke Beach is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and, if Monday was any indication, all the parking spaces will likely fill up fast later this week.
In three hours time on Monday, Bonney recorded 55 cars carrying 168 people looking to beat the heat.
“It’s amazing,” Bonney said.
Mothers chatted or read under umbrellas while children played in the sand or dipped in the lake.
While some pulled out fast in the early afternoon when it started to sprinkle, others barely seemed to notice the raindrops, which only lasted a few minutes.
Bonney said it’s nice to see people enjoying the lake, but she says the rules are the rules.
Not only is she one of the people who can control who can and cannot get into the park, Bonney is also responsible for making sure the vehicles line up properly in the designated parking spaces to allow maximum accessibility.
For those who don’t follow the rules, say, by sneaking in before the park opens, Bonney has the authority to write tickets.
Coventry residents can obtain the coveted yellow parking permit for an annual fee of $10 per vehicle.
Bonney said the park’s regulations don’t stop people from trying when the weather heats up and she is always puzzled when out-of-town residents come looking to swim, especially from towns with swimming areas of their own.
In Columbia, for example, season passes and daily pass options are available for nominal fees.
Non-residents can also purchase season passes for $150, $250 and $100 for children, adults and seniors, respectively.
In Willington, both residents and non-residents can purchase daily or seasonal passes for entry to Hall’s Pond.
And, in Willimantic, the Lauter Park’s Splash Pad at 625 Jackson St. is a cool, fun and free way for kids to beat the summer heat.
While most adhere to beach and park usage rules, there’s apparently no lack of determination when it comes to cooling off – permit or no permit.
“They still try and get in,” Bonney said.
For information on keeping cool in your town, check out your town’s park and recreation web site.
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