NORWALK Conn. -- Norwalk roommates Kelly Hughes, Jill Trufan and Kim Shorun were inspired to sarcasm when they pulled into Calf Pasture Beach Monday afternoon. "We were like, 'Oh my God, it's not even packed yet,'" Hughes said. "It was so crowded."
"Such a nice day, though, and Fourth of July," Trufan said.
That was the story Norwalkers agreed the beach was more packed than ever. People arriving in the early afternoon were shunted to Taylor Farm to park. Gate attendants said there were "more out-of-towners" than in the past, and one Norwalk police officer said it seemed there have been more "people not from Norwalk" every year.
"I've never seen Calf Pasture as busy as it is," said lifelong Norwalker Michael Czigledi, 67. "Imagine if the fireworks were tonight. ... I got here at 12 and Shady was already closed. Not a spot to be had."
Czigledi said he lives next to the beach in the summer, in a boat at Cove Marina, and it was "without a doubt" more crowded than ever. "Well, you have to remember, we have a perfect high tide and the weather is fantastic," he said.
One person suggested that the $20 fee for those without resident stickers was too low it's $40 in Westport, he said. A gate attendant thought the fee was "just right," but was offended that people park at Marvin Elementary School for free and walk down.
"That's been a problem for many years, said Mayor Richard Moccia, but there's not much we can do about it." First there is the problem of staffing Marvin, he said, and some Norwalkers don't get a [free] sticker and park there to avoid traffic.
Charging out-of-towners more might carry complications. "That's up to the Council," the mayor said. "I know we use federal money for Calf Pasture ... there may be some restriction about how much we can charge for people to get in there." He had heard the beach was crowded but didn't have any numbers. "I think a lot of people were making up for yesterday even without the fireworks because it was a nice day today," he said.
Many of the cars in the parking lot had New York plates, and there were some from New Jersey. One beachgoer from New Rochelle, N.Y., said she was here with a friend from Norwalk, and a woman from the Bronx said her "sister lives here."
Juan Martinez of the Bronx said his family comes every week, sometimes twice. It takes them 50 minutes to get here, and they travel in two cars and don't mind the $20 per car fee. "It's quiet, nice, beautiful," he said.
"We're sort of the victims of our own success, Moccia said, because many people think the beach is so nice they keep coming to it. We might have to get something done. But right now we'll just grin and bear it."
What do you think? Is $20 just right? Does the fact that people park at Marvin offend you?
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