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Rain remains storyline as summer winds down
Merchants weary of weather, hope for big holiday crowds
Shannon, right, and Jill Stribling cast off from a dock at Port Royale on Tuesday. Depending on the weather, Labor Day weekend may draw large crowds to Lake Lanier to celebrate the end of the summer season. - photo by Crystal Ledford

It’s been an unusual summer with well above average rainfall and cooler than normal temperatures.

But those who run seasonal businesses hope the upcoming three-day weekend falls back in line with more normal summer weather patterns.

Brian Teeters, rentals manager at Port Royale Marina in northeastern Forsyth, said that while Labor Day weekend is typically the slowest of the three summer holiday periods, which include Memorial Day and July Fourth, it does draw many to Lake Lanier.

And this holiday weekend may see more lake-goers than normal, Teeters said.

“Given all of the rain we’ve had this entire summer, we’re expecting it to be a big weekend,” Teeters said. “Everybody that wasn’t able to get out on the Fourth will hopefully be able to get out here this weekend.”

The National Weather Service is calling for anywhere from a 20 to 50 percent chance of rain Friday through Monday. According to Teeters, last-minute weather likely will determine how the marina’s business ultimately fares this weekend.

“Most of the reservation calls we’ve been getting this week, they’re checking availability but waiting until later in the week to make a reservation to see what the weather’s going to do,” he said. “That’s on the small boats. We’re already all booked up on our houseboats.”

Carla Wilson, manager of Cumming Aquatic Center off Pilgrim Mill Road, will also be keeping a close watch on weather forecasts this weekend.

The holiday marks the close of the center’s outdoor leisure pool, which is open only during summer months.

“Like our [numbers] for the whole summer, it’s weather-dependent,” Wilson said. “Last I checked, the weather was supposed to be all right this weekend so attendance should be good, I would think.”

Pool operator Jason Collins said the weekend is busy at the facility, but probably doesn’t draw the crowds that some mays suspect.

“I think some people maybe don’t come because they think it’s going to be so busy they can’t even get a chair or something, and it’s not that busy,” he said.

“It’s actually a good weekend to come because most people just come for a few hours because they have family get-togethers or cookouts to get to.”

The outdoor pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

While Labor Day is the end of the season for the outdoor pool, the facility’s two indoor ones remain open year round.

Likewise, Port Royale is open all year, and Teeters is hoping for a busy fall season.

While some see Labor Day as the close of summer, there’s plenty of others who continue to enjoy Lanier well after the holiday.

“If the weather cooperates and stays [dry and warm] … we’ll be busy on the weekends through the end of September and maybe even October,” he said.

He added that all the rainy weather this summer may contribute to an even busier fall.

“We do weather rain-checks if the weather does get bad while they’re out there [on the lake],” he said. “So that’s going to help extend the season because they’re going to want to use those rain-checks by the end of the year.”

That’s a good thing since the autumn months are a good time of year to be on the water anyway, Teeters added.

“Fall is really my favorite season to be out on the lake,” he said. “If it’s 80 degrees and no humidity, that’s perfect weather.”

And he’s hoping for at least a little of that perfection this weekend.

“But of course it’ll just all depend on what the weather’s doing and it’s been like that all year.”