ROSEVILLE, Minn. - A dozen youngsters splashed in the shallow waters of Lake McCarron's beach on Wednesday. However, they were not under the watchful eyes of lifeguards. The service is done for the season.
Ramsey County pulled the plug on lifeguards on five of the county's eight beaches on Sunday, August 10. County officials insist that tests for water quality will continue into autumn and the beaches will be maintained, but lifeguard service has ended.
"Our use at our beaches has declined somewhat throughout the summer," said Jon Oyanagi, Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Director. "We want to manage the public taxpayer dollars the best that we can and so, we staff the beaches when we are at our max as far as attendance and usage."
Oyanagi added that many of the county's lifeguards are college students, who head back to their schools in mid-August. "So, our staff numbers dwindle at that time as well," said Oyanagi.
The closings did not sit well with some beach goers at Lake McCarrons on Wednesday.
"I think it is a shame that it is cut off so short," said Marina Rathman, Saint Paul swimmer. "We had a brutal winter and I think it would be sad that we cannot extend the summer a little bit longer."
Others were less concerned about the lack of lifeguards. One adult swimmer prefers not having the lifeguards warning her not to swim outside the buoys of the marked swimmer area. Another felt the guards should not carry the burden of safety for children.
"It is nice to have them here, but you cannot go out too deep in the water and I think the parents have a lot of responsibility, too,"said Elizabeth Kaiser of West Saint Paul. She kept watch with her daughter-in-law over five grandchildren in the water.
The cut-off time for lifeguards varies across the metro area from community to community. Minneapolis, for example, continues with lifeguards at some beaches until later in August.