A run of scorching July weather has created a welcome boom for Sylvan Lake businesses.
“This has been the busiest weekend since Canada Day — and it might be even busier,” said Chad Bell, an instructor with Alberta Flyboard, who noted this hot, dry month has been “awesome,” and a nice change from a dreary, wet June.
With weekend temperatures hovering just below 30 C on Saturday and Sunday, beach towels, umbrellas and lounging sunbathers covered much of the park’s patch of sand.
Along the grassy, treed shoreline, virtually every speck of shade was taken up by a blanket or lawn chair.
And the lake’s blue-green waters were similarly speckled with swimmers, flotation toys and dinghys.
Tourists from across the province were keeping the lake’s rental equipment in constant use. “We’ve been extremely busy, said Tyra Hansen, a staffer at Sunsport Rentals, who noted all the boats and personal watercraft had been pre-booked for the entire day by 1 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s beautiful out and the weather is supposed to be great all week, so business is going to rocket,” she predicted.
Restaurants along Lakeshore Drive were also hopping with patrons.
Pete’s at the Beach was so busy, managers had to call in extra help — “which is better than not being busy,” said server Julie Nielsen, who remembers a few summers when she had to wait for any diners to walk through the door.
“The whole two weeks of July so far have been hot,” Nielsen added, so even weekdays evenings have been bustling.
A lineup for ice cream at The Big Moo was almost out the shop’s front door Saturday afternoon — but was progressing steadily.
And Marc Pritchard, a cashier at the sunscreen counter, was loving the business.
All the patrons are keeping local people gainfully employed, said Pritchard, who noted a lot of college students are appreciating the extra shifts. “The truth is, it was a slow spring, and this keeps everybody working.”
Outside, beach-goers were revelling in the sunshine. “It’s about time!” said Lynette Curry of Red Deer. Although the crowded lake was a little “zoo-like,” Curry added, “I love it.”
Bonnie Whidden, her husband and two kids from Edmonton, were anticipating getting on some personal watercraft. “We came yesterday and it’s been great,” said Widden, who noted her kids particularly enjoyed the water.
Saturday was so hot, kayaker Kyle Martens didn’t mind tipping into the lake a couple of times to cool off.
“This is the nicest weekend . . . It’s great to be out here and come out of your shell,” said Ashlyn Price, 20, of Calgary, who was looking forward to playing beach volleyball.