Grand Bend gears up for busy Victoria Day long weekend

The first long weekend of the summer means big crowds at Grand Bend.

“So we’re looking forward to it,” said Matthew Tuckey, who along with wife Marcia opened the Pinery Market for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and are expecting thousands of visitors on the May long weekend.

“It’s been a huge undertaking on our part to get the place ready. We’ve been down for two years with COVID. But the people are showing up and it’s going to be a good weekend,” Tuckey added.

On Wednesday, Main Street in Grand Bend was quiet, with many of the businesses and restaurants closed ahead of the warm weather and crowds returning late in the week.

“It’s pretty big weekend no matter where you end up going and the reason we’re here is to get set up for the weekend,” said Brent Rudell while taking in a meal by the beach.

Bar owners have enjoyed an early start to the season with some abnormally warm temperatures this spring — a sign of big things to come this summer.

“It’s gonna be a crazy summer starting earlier than usual,” said Matt Parker, manager at the Growling Gator. “We’re excited to get back into it seeing everyone again, old friends and just seeing people having fun again.”

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) tweeted a reminder they will be out in force with a zero tolerance approach to alcohol-related offences.

On May 13, 27-year-old Zachary Hartman was stabbed in a parking lot near the beach. But the added police presence is reassuring to businesses and patrons.

“The more flashing lights you see, the more you’re gonna probably think twice about driving [after] a couple drinks,” said Michelle Rudell.

OPP warn party goers that there will be an increase in RIDE programs as well as enforcement on the water over the long weekend.

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