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Summer’s ‘last hurrah’
Merchants, camps prep for busy weekend
Bald Ridge campground on Lake Lanier, above, will be among the popular local Labor Day weekend destinations. - photo by Autumn McBride
The sticker on their side-view mirror says “no bad days,” and that’s the motto Lisa and Virgil Griffin have lived by since March.

The Oregon couple couldn’t be happier working with Frank and Louise Boroughs as park attendants at the Bald Ridge campground on Lake Lanier, east of Cumming.

The couples have been living out of their recreational vehicle all summer, welcoming guests, offering information, keeping the park clean and patrons happy.

“There are lots of kids riding their bicycles and swimming, and we have a wonderful park, a lot of boats and Jet Skis,” Lisa Griffin said. “For a lot of people, for $54 for a Friday and Saturday night — a full weekend — you can’t beat the quality time.”

Like Bald Ridge campground, which is already booked for Labor Day weekend, many lake-area merchants have had a busy summer.

Brent Danneman, general manager of Port Royale Marina in northeastern Forsyth, said business is about 25 percent heavier than this time last year.

Labor Day weekend, which signals the unofficial end of summer, promises to be an especially busy holiday, he said, with boat rentals mostly booked.

“It’s kind of a, I don’t want to say last hurrah, but it’s the last kind of big holiday before Thanksgiving,” he said.

During the busy summer, Danneman said he’s seen countless personal watercraft and boats pulled up on all the islands, with many fun family activities going on.

“People stayed home and used area recreation this year,” he said. “... It’s really been great, beyond our expectations, so we’re pleased.

“The overall traffic this year is up considerably. Lanier being at full pool or near full pool has been a major effect on traffic this year.”

The lake was at 1,069.67 feet above sea level on Thursday, a far cry from the drought-influenced water levels of early 2009.

Labor Day isn’t just about the destination. It’s also a big time for food since it’s “the last big backyard holiday outing” until Thanksgiving, said Brenda Reid, spokeswoman for Publix.

The company, which has several grocery stores in Forsyth County, began offering its Labor Day sales today. Among other items, shoppers will find discounts on spare ribs, extra large shrimp, ground beef and produce.

“Our produce department, they’re doing a special feature on backyard grilling, so they’re showing veggies that are good to put on your backyard grill,” she said.

Publix will keep regular business hours over the weekend, Reid said. Starting today, the crowds will “really build momentum up until Monday,” so the earlier the better to avoid the rush.

For the Griffins, the busier the better. The pair works four days and then takes four days off while the Boroughs work a four-day shift.

The two can often be seen laughing and enjoying the lake even on their days off.

“We see the same faces over and over a lot,” Lisa Griffin said. “Most of the people coming to this park are from Cumming, Dahlonega, Dawsonville — just right here in the area.

“Of course, we get people from Florida and California and all over, but mainly we stay full with regulars from local areas.”

The Griffins will be park attendants through Nov. 21, when the campgrounds close for the winter, and they return to Oregon.

Labor Day may be the last big weekend, she said, but they’ll “still stay busy on the weekends right up until we close.”