San Diego's beaches were packed on the 4th of July, including Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. NBC 7's Sherene Tagharobi reports on the Independence Day celebrations.
San Diegans got up bright and early Friday morning in order to secure prime spots at local beaches for their 4th of July celebrations.
By 6 a.m., some areas were already crowded, including Mission Beach, where it was becoming increasingly difficult to even find a parking space.
One San Diegan and his family managed to snag one of the last spots on the grass near the Mission Beach boardwalk. The family happily set up their canopy, tables, chairs and food for their gathering.
But getting that prime beachside spot didn’t come easy. The family said they arrived at the beach at 2 a.m. to claim the area.
“We’re really happy to be here. If this was a ‘Monopoly’ board game, this would be Park Place and Boardwalk – we have the best real estate,” said the father. “We’re just happy to celebrate the 4th of July.”
Meanwhile, more canopies and daytime campsites popped up all along the grass and sand as locals brought their towels, boogie boards and chairs out to the beach for a day of festive fun.
And the crowds were expected to grow throughout the day.
By 9:15 a.m., the San Diego Police Department tweeted that the parking lots at the beaches were at full capacity.
According to San Diego Lifeguards, the 4th of July weekend is traditionally the busiest weekend of the year across local beaches and Mission Bay Park. In 2013, more than one million people visited the beaches and San Diego Lifeguards conducted 423 water rescues.
This year, lifeguards said elevated surf is expected, as well as strong rip currents throughout the weekend. Officials warn beachgoers to take precautions and listen to lifeguards if they plan on swimming. Beachgoers should also obey all posted signs and warning flags.