Indiana Dunes beaches draw big crowds for Memorial Day weekend

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) -- Thousands of people packed the Indiana beaches Sunday and the park rangers at the Indiana Dunes National Park is expecting more of the same Monday.

"Yesterday was insane," beachgoer Chris Tsampis said. "I have not seen it like that unless it was on the 4th of July honestly."

Tsampis said he and his brother left the Porter Beach because it was just too crowded.

"We came on motorcycles and it was backed up four to five miles so we ended up just leaving and going to Michigan City for a bite to eat," he said. "Most of them were Illinois license plates. Makes sense. From Chicago probably."

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John Pierre Anderson, a supervisory ranger of the Indiana Dunes National Park said his team expected the rush, but managing those large crowds during a pandemic was overwhelming.

"Oh my. Definitely thousands of people. Our big concern was that they just were not social distancing at all," Anderson said.

Anderson and his team do their best to remind people of the social distancing guidelines while on the beach that stretches 15 miles across the dunes state and national parks.

Rangers say dozens of cars were parked illegally because the spots were all full.

"It was crazy," Anderson said. "A lot of people out here. Parking lots filled by 9 a.m.

The beaches are expected to be crowded again Monday.

"It is hard," Tsampis said. "Stay in your groups of small people to keep others safe."

There is a hotline at 219-395-1003 to check if parking is available.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Lake Geneva looked like a pre-pandemic summer day on Sunday, a sight unseen in months.

Outdoor restaurants were packed with patrons, while beachgoers enjoyed the lake waters during the Memorial Day weekend. Social distance signs posted in the sand served as reminders.
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