Summer Starts

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The three-day weekend is often called the unofficial start to summer. With the heat steaming, many families head for water and end up on our beaches.

Dave Humphrey's with the Panama City Beach Police says they beef up its patrol presence with everyone working 12-hour shifts and days off are canceled.

"It's mostly families; it's not the same type crowd we have during spring break. You don't have to deal with them in quite the manner that you have to deal with young people who have had too many drinks," says Dave.

Jerry Morrell, the co-manager at the beach Wal-Mart, says they had 3,000 more people come through the doors than last year's holiday weekend.

"It was a tough month, but we made up a lot of ground at the end of the month and I think all in all, it was good," Jerry says.

And for those avoiding the beach but wanting to stay in the water, several flocked to the water park, Shipwreck Island.

General Manager Buddy Wilkes says the holiday has proved a good turnout.

"We had a good weekend, we had good weather and we still have those memories of last season when it rained almost everyday in June and July, so we're excited so far about this season."

And for business on the beach, the season is just getting started. Most say the crowds will only pick up in the next couple of weeks as more schools get out and families are ready to head to the beach.

Morrell says Wal-Mart is ready for the changes, including year-round tourists with the increase of condos along the beach.

"Things are changing on the beach, but I think it's going to be for the positive in the long run."

Wilkes says the peak of the season is just around the corner, and so far the weather is great.

"Memorial day is not a busy for us, as actually the first week or so of June. Once all the families in the southeast have gotten out of school and got situated where they're ready to go on vacation."