A little rain, a lot of sun, and a crush of Memorial Day weekend traffic on Cape Cod
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
HYANNIS — A mostly sunny Memorial Day weekend ended Monday with cloudy skies and light cool rain on Cape Cod, but visitors and local businesses reported that the unofficial kickoff to summer was a bright and lively one.
“Business has been brisk, and it’s still brisk as we speak,” Kimberly Marsh, co-manager of the Chatham Candy Manor, said by phone Monday afternoon. “I’m in the kitchen dipping chocolate like crazy, trying to keep up with the demand up front.”
Drizzle led some visitors to head home early, but overall, the weather was pleasant, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson.
“It was actually better than expected,” Simpson said. “There was a lot more sun than clouds.”
Rick Murray, co-owner of The Crown & Anchor in Provincetown, said the 18 guest rooms at the facility’s inn had been fully booked and that it had sold out cabaret shows each weekend night.
“We had a great weekend,” Murray said. “Hopefully, if the weather is with us this summer, it should be our best summer ever.”
Monday’s rain did not faze 7-year-old Angela Sullivan of Hyannis, who sat in front of a store on Main Street selling seashells as her father stood nearby.
“They’re conch shells,” the little saleswoman said. “I got them at the beach. Some are alive.”
Tony Sullivan, 38, said his daughter made $10 Sunday, when sunny weather drew lots of tourists.
Wendy Northcross, chief executive of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said local hotels and restaurants had been busy and outdoor activities were well attended, including a youth soccer tournament that attracted 388 teams and a Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops drive that drew about 1,000 donors.
“Overall I think we had a better weekend than last year, because overall we had better weather,” Northcross said. “Once the thermometer goes over 60 degrees, it’s like a magic switch. People just feel like they want to be out there.”
Northcross said if the weather is favorable, this could be a banner summer for the Cape, with Barnstable, Sandwich, and Yarmouth each hosting events celebrating the towns’ 375th anniversaries, as well as festivities marking the centenary of the Cape Cod Canal.
Mary Maguire, a spokeswoman for AAA Southern New England, said gas prices had been trending downward both locally and nationally in recent weeks, which could encourage road trips.
AAA projected that prices would settle into a national average between $3.55 and $3.75 for regular unleaded gas during the early-summer travel season between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July holiday, Maguire said.
Outside the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, Ellen and Ken Wilson of Burtonville, Md., expressed surprise at Bay State gas prices.
“It’s about 15 cents cheaper here,” said Ken, 64. “We’re paying over $4.”
Many other travelers chose not to drive. Tom Cahir, administrator for the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, said Monday afternoon that the CapeFlyer weekend rail service had transported 1,037 people from Boston to Cape Cod since Friday, when it opened for the season.
Last year, the CapeFlyer had 808 passengers over the long weekend.
Another option will be available next month, with JetBlue Airways set to offer service between Hyannis and New York once a day from June 26 to Sept. 29.
With the rain as an impetus, Monday’s exodus began as early as 10 a.m., when a steady stream of vehicles headed up Route 6 west toward Boston. Traffic became heavier around 11 a.m., with backups extending from 1 to 3 miles east of the Cape Cod Canal, according to Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
By 5:30 p.m., the RideWise smartphone application showed traffic moving at 11 miles an hour between Route 130 and the Sagamore Bridge.
Some travelers took to Twitter to express frustration.
“Have never seen worse Cape traffic and it’s only Memorial Day weekend #happysummer,” wrote @_amanduuuuh just before 4 p.m.
Visitors who waited for the rain to clear Monday huddled under umbrellas as they strolled along Main Street in Hyannis. Despite the grim weather, business owners reported a good weekend.
On Saturday, Cape Cod Duckmobiles filled five tours featuring the Vietnam War-era amphibious vehicle with 30 passengers, according to Jon Britton, who has owned the business for 19 years.
Passenger counts are “up a little from last year,” he said.
On Monday, tourists dressed in long pants and raincoats for the 11:30 a.m. tour.
“It’s a little expensive, but we thought it would be fun,” said Roland Brandl, 44, of Westchester County, N.Y., who stood waiting to board with his wife, Uli, and daughters, Annika, 11, and Julia, 10.
“On Saturday it was sunny,” Uli Brandl said. “We went to the beach to look for seashells and walked in the water.”
A weekend of overcast mornings was good for business at The Breakfast Room in West Dennis, said owner Deborah Klimshuk. The restaurant served 1,250 breakfasts from Saturday through Monday, she said.
“It was a little better than last year,” Klimshuk said.
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