Holiday kicks off sunnier lake season

Despite the cloudy start to Memorial Day, Angie Garcia and several family members stuck with their plans to picnic at Lake Lanier’s Buford Dam Park.

The baby in Garcia’s belly had a plan of its own.

Members of Gwinnett County’s Fire and Emergency Services, stationed at the park for the holiday , were called to attend to Garcia until she could be taken to a hospital amid signs of labor.

“Sometimes these things happen,” said Chris Arthur, chief ranger for Lake Lanier.

Holiday crowds were lighter than expected at the park,  but that was likely due to the clouds, Arthur said.

“Usually we’ve closed the park by 10:30 a.m.,” he said. “That means the park is to capacity as we can’t get anyone else in here.”

Monday, few cars were in overflow parking area after Noon. But as the weather cleared, more people converged on the park.

“We’re glad to see the public,” Arthur said. “Things looked much different last year.”

It rained last Memorial Day, and the water level at Lake Lanier was still recovering from the severe drought that torpedoed the 2008 season.

Monday signaled the start of what lake businesses and users alike hope will be the best full season in several years. The lake is full, and Arthur said attendance at Buford Dam Park should be healthy as long as the weather is good.

At Lake Lanier Islands Resort on Monday, crowds also were sparse early in the day, but the staff at Harbor Landing Marina was hopeful.

LaShonda Bishop brought her family to the lake’s water park as soon as the clouds broke.

“There are a lot of people at the hotel looking out of the windows trying to figure out if it is going to rain again or not,” she said. “Our plan was to come to the park, so here we are.”

The Melendi and Markman families didn’t let the clouds keep them inside, either. The two families rented a boat to take their kids water skiing.

“We don’t give up easily,” joked Stuart Markman, in town from Tampa.

“It was pouring when we woke up, but we decided to give it a shot,” said Brooke Melendi, who lives in Alpharetta. “This was the plan, and I like to stick with the plan.”