Norwich providing residents a free trip to Ocean Beach

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — Starting in June the Norwich Recreation Department tried to find enough lifeguards to open Spaulding Pond., but two months later still no lifeguards, still no pond, but the department did find another way to give residents a day at the beach.

norwich bus to beach Norwich providing residents a free trip to Ocean Beach

That beach is Ocean Beach Park in New London, which has a splash pad, swimming pool, and a huge sandy beach.

ocean beach park 3 Norwich providing residents a free trip to Ocean Beach

“We went to the lagoon and we found Hermit crabs and we found a big one,” said 5-year-old Zara Santos of New London.

Residents of Norwich can go to Ocean Beach for free this Friday and next because the Rose City wasn’t able to open Spaulding Pond.

ocean beach park 2 Norwich providing residents a free trip to Ocean Beach

“We tried everything to hire lifeguards including dropping the age limit from 17 and a half to 16, consulting with recreation directors, swimming coaches, the American Red Cross.” said Lee Ann Gomes, the Director of the Norwich Department of Human Services which oversees the city’s Recreation Department.

norwich recreation department Norwich providing residents a free trip to Ocean Beach

They even asked other beaches if they had lifeguards to loan them. Budget concerns caused the delay in hiring.

“The city didn’t know what it’s revenue stream would be so they… wanted to make sure they were prudent with their numbers,” said Gomes.

Once the money came through most lifeguards already found other work so instead some of the money which would have paid them is being used to bring a busload of families to Ocean Beach.ocean beach park 1 Norwich providing residents a free trip to Ocean Beach

“Sand. Sand,” said three-year-old Norwich resident Monique Thomas. She and her mom will be waiting at the Recreation Department Friday morning to board the bus which leaves Norwich at 10:00 a.m. and leaves the beach at 2:00 p.m..

Minors must be with an adult, but other than that all Norwich residents are welcome and if enough people are interested they’ll add another trip on Labor Day.

“I think it’s going to be a blast and I’m really grateful for it,” said Monique’s mother Zakiea Robinson.

To make sure the city doesn’t run into a problem opening Spaulding Pond next year it is going to use the $38,000 it didn’t use this summer to hire lifeguards early in the season so it can get that pond open in 2018.

 

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