Sizzling Fourth mirrors summer
It wasn’t just the sun that made the July 4 weekend a hot one in Port Aransas. Busy cash registers ringing up around town also produced their share of heat.
Clear weather, economic factors and possibly other elements made the 2011 July 4 weekend something of a record, according to merchants and others around town.
“It was definitely a record year, and there were a lot of people in Port Aransas. Probably the best Fourth of July in the history of the company,” said Mike Hall, co-owner and store director of the Family Center IGA grocery store, which has been in business since 1967.
Merchants “think maybe the economy is causing people to come to Port Aransas because it’s a little more affordable than many destinations,” Hall said.
It didn’t hurt that the price of gas went down a little not long before July 4.
Also, having the Fourth land on a Monday helped produce a perfect economic storm. Thousands of folks decided to spend the three-day weekend in Port Aransas.
“And, in general, you’ve always got to give the Chamber of Commerce some kudos, because I think they have been doing some pretty good marketing for us,” Hall said.
Gail Spinn owns Silver Sands Realty, which includes a vacation home rental service. She said people were calling her at 1 p.m. on July 3, desperately looking for places to stay, but finding that everything was booked, Spinn said.
The Port Aransas ferries moved some 37,796 vehicles from July 1 to July 4, accord- ing to numbers provided by Howard Gillespie, ferry operations manager. That’s more than any other four-day Independence Day holiday period in the past five years, the numbers showed. The next-heaviest year was in 2009, with 36,962 vehicles transported.
Did the two new ferries, with their larger capacities, reduce waiting times to get across the channel? Just how long were the waits?
Gillespie responded to those questions like this:
“According to the logs, around noon each day, the wait jumped up to an hour, but most of the time, it was 30 minutes or less, which is much better than any other Fourth,” Gillespie wrote in an e-mail to the South Jetty.
“On the fifth, we did not have one of the large boats scheduled, but when the line leaving the island got to over an hour wait, we put the (larger ferry) in service with all six of the 20-car ferries.”
Pat Farley said he had he had his biggest day ever on Saturday, July 2, at his jewelry business, the Silver King, which has been operating for about three years now.
Four women were waiting to get into Farley’s shop when he opened it Saturday morning. “And they spent big, too,” he said.
Intensified petroleum industry activity in South Texas could be playing a role in the Port Aransas economy, Farley said.
“There’s a lot of oil field stuff going on off to the west of us,” Farley said. “Lots of money there. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of people who can’t afford to go to Disney World, and that helps us, too.”
Jay Kenigsberg saw good crowds at his restaurant, Jay’s Seafood and Spaghetti Works.
“It was way above last year, and I think a little above the previous two or three years,” Kenigsberg said. Actually, he said, the whole summer has been strong.
“I don’t know if people have gotten more (economically) confident, or if they’re just tired of being worried,” he said.
Traffic streamed in and out of Gratitude, a shop owned by Sally Marco.
“It was smashing!” Marco said. “Oh, fabulous! Almost too many people. … Everyone I talked to said they’ve never seen so many people here.”
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749- 5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.