GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - It's a sea of red, white, and blue in Gulf Shores, with star spangled banners lining Highway 59 as far as the eye can see as a tribute to patriotism.
The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, it was the calm before the storm on the beach.
Many tourists have yet to make it down in droves, so locals had one more day of sun to themselves.
"We decided to come today because we know tomorrow is going to be crazy, and it's going to be too much for us. As a local it's just too much for us that we're used to, so I'd rather come when it's more calm," said Spanish Fort native Valerie Mattern.
Gulf Shores resident Lydia Rodgers also took full advantage.
"We know that we're going to have a lot of tourists and we're just getting ready for it," Rodgers said.
Some vacationers are already in town, though. Riley Couch and company are down for the weekend from Huntsville.
"We come down here for Memorial Day weekend pretty much just to soak up as much sun as we can," Couch said.
Traffic was light along Beach Boulevard Friday afternoon, but the consensus in Gulf Shores was it's only a matter of time before it's bumper to bumper.
"Definitely a lot of traffic," Mattern said. "We kind of ran into some on the way down here from Spanish Fort. It wasn't too bad, but I'm sure tomorrow I bet I-10 will be crazy."
To handle the influx of people, authorities said they've doubled beach patrols.
Their uniforms reminded us of the true meaning of Memorial Day. It's not about summer blockbusters or vacations, rather a tribute to the brave ones before us who fought - and died - for our nation.
"I think more people take it as summer vacation when really it should be more focused on the veterans and what they do for us and our country," Couch said.
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