LOS ANGELES - Scores of beach-goers flocked to Southland beaches for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season. Many brought elaborate set-ups complete with tents, rugs and grills.
"It feels real good - we’re just happy to be outside and out in the open instead of staying stuck inside," said Guillermo Tapia, who brought his grill from home on a flatbed truck. He and his family barbecued ribs, chicken, and onions while their kids and dogs played in the sand.
With coronavirus restrictions being lifted and vaccination rates on the rise, people felt more comfortable gathering in groups. Michael Chapman and his friends canceled their Memorial Day plans last year because of the pandemic, so invited a large group to celebrate and BBQ on the beach.
Jeilyn Martinez also had to cancel her annual holiday celebration last year, so invited about 20 friends and family members for ceviche and grilling.
"The kids are on the beach just swimming, so that’s basically what we do for Memorial Day - just celebrate with family and friends," she said.
While many hit the beach just for the day, others made a long weekend out of the holiday and set up camp. The Dockweiler RV Park was packed with overnighters.
Gerald Padilla’s son gets one of the spots for Memorial Day weekend every year.
"Our families get together on Memorial Day weekend and camp - it’s awesome," said Gerald Padilla, who lives in Asuza.
Louis Crespo, his daughter, and partner drove to the beach from Rancho Cucomonga. "We’re visiting family here with my beautiful pregnant significant other here, enjoying our baby bump and some michealadas!"
He said he was expecting a ‘plethora’ of friends and family to join.
"We’re going to have a lot of people here," he said.