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Tri-State Area Residents To Flock To Beaches, Waterways For Fourth Of July Fun

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NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) — Beachgoers are disappointed with the severe weather forecast for the Fourth of July, but many say two good days out of three isn’t so bad.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, with Hurricane Arthur headed up the coast, rip currents in the Tri-State area remain a big concern, especially along the Jersey Shore.

“It’s a little rough. I don’t think anyone’s going to go in,” said Sam Smith.

“The beach is fun because you get to find shells. (Christine: are you going to be here the whole weekend?) No,” said Mia Caruso.

But families and vacationers are determined to have a good time regardless of the weather this Fourth of July.

Seaside Heights officials said hotels are full and the forecast for Saturday and Sunday looks great, but emergency crews are on standby.

“Tonight we’ll have the OEM drive around town. If there is heavy flooding conditions, we’ll barricade roads if that happens. We’ll notify our residents,” said Councilman Tony Vaz (R-Seaside Heights).

Some Jersey Shore businesses said they can’t afford a bad weekend.

“Literally the ocean came under the building and lifted it up, the wind ripped off our roof,” said business owner Danny Merk, who was hit hard by Sandy.

Merk, who also owns the house “The Jersey Shore” cast lived in, said there is a lot to do in town, even if it rains.

“They can come get a tour (of the house), a T-shirt, a slice of pizza, play in the arcades. No matter what, Seaside is fun,” he said.

Back on the beach. While the iconic roller coaster is gone, the Sky Ride — destroyed by Hurricane Sandy — is back up and running. The town also just got a new carousel, a gift from the town of Seaside in Oregon.

“As you come around the circle you’ll see the gigantic carousel horse with the girl on it welcome you to Seaside Heights,” said Mike Graichen, Seaside Heights program coordinator.

Seaside Heights is also planning on still having its fireworks show Friday night starting at 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile on Long Island, residents hit the beach a day early, bracing for a washout on the Fourth.

“We were debating coming. We saw clouds, but it turned out well,” said Katie ferrero.

But those sunny skies will not last for long and at Jones Beach, with its upgraded boardwalk and concessions, a lost day of sunshine hurts the bottom line, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

“It’s disappointing because you set up the park, you want people to enjoy the park and you hate to lose a weekend like this,” said Jones Beach State Park Director Sue Guliani.

The sun is expected to make a comeback Saturday and Sunday, but just as is the case in New Jersey, lifeguards warn of dangerous rip tides due to the rippling effects of Arthur.

“Swim in front of a lifeguard stand. If you are not a good swimmer, the ocean this weekend is not for you,” said Jones Beach lifeguard Cary Epstein.

Stormy weather can also churn up bays usually packed with boatloads of fireworks viewers.

Officials are warning boaters that the rules of the sea and the road are identical when it comes to drinking and driving.

“You’re gonna get pulled over, you’re gonna get arrested, you’re gonna go to jail,” said Richard Mallow, the New York State executive director for MADD.

“You could take a ferry, you can take a water taxi. Don’t put other people’s lives in danger,” said boating safety advocate Gina Lieneck.

Lieneck knows all to well the dangers. She was critically injured and her 11-year-old daughter Brianna was killed in a 2005 boating accident on the Great South Bay.

Officials said boaters should designate a driver, be equipped with life jackets and fire extinguishers, and be aware of passenger limits.

“An overcrowded vessel is subject to swamping, overturning, and can be deadly,” said Islip Town Harbor Police Chief Alan Loeffer.

Patrols will be out in force this weekend both on the roads and waterways. Law enforcement officials said they want people to have fun, safely.

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