Sometimes when you live somewhere, it is easy to forget about or fail to take notice of the wonderful opportunities and places you have just minutes down the road, yet others travel long distances to come and enjoy. Westmoreland is home to many of these, including Westmoreland State Park.
The weekend of July 4th could definitely serve as a reminder for locals of the great experiences available at the park, as that weekend droves of visitors from near and far came to visit the park. So many visitors came, that for the first time in the park’s history, they were forced to close because of attendance.
“We’ve been discovered,” Park Manager Ken Benson said. Benson spoke of how unfortunate it was to have to close, but also of how pleasing it was that so many wanted to spend their weekend at the park. “A victim of your own success,” he said as he explained the situation.
While the Fourth of July is usually the busiest weekend of the year for the park, Benson said they did not anticipate such high numbers and are extremely sorry for the situation.
On both Friday and Saturday of that weekend, they were forced to close the park to any more visitors, as capacity, parking spaces and all 15 dumpsters were full. The park has limited resources and currently, a small staff so with 4,000 people visiting the park per day, safety issues were also presented. The park closed at 1 p.m. on Friday and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. “Everything has limitations,” Benson said, “Our primary concern is to provide a safe environment.”
Benson said there were many visitors who had travelled from the DC area and further and were very disappointed to not be able to visit the park, but as the park hit capacity, they had to turn away both visitors and locals alike. “We have to be equal to locals and visitors,” Benson said.