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After a long, hot summer, signs of fall emerge in Connecticut

September 2, 2018

High school sports teams, including the East Lyme High School field hockey team, were hosting car wash fundraisers this weekend. It’s possible that somewhere someone was sipping a pumpkin spice latte, which began popping up on coffee shop menus last week.

At Scott’s Yankee Farmer in East Lyme, one family came from Massachusetts expecting to pick their own peaches. But Subash Manickam said the staff told him and his wife and sons that the peach-picking season is over; Sept. 1 meant apple season had begun, so the boys munched on McIntoshes instead.

Though for more literal followers of the seasonal calendar summer won’t end for several more weeks, signs of fall started emerging on the unofficial last weekend of summer.

Farm owner Karen Scott said they open apple picking every Labor Day weekend in the hopes of getting people in an autumnal mood, even as peaches still fill the shelves of the Boston Post Road farm stand.

“We’re still mostly in summer mode here,” she said, but “you’ve got to get people used to knowing that they’re open.”

After posting on Facebook about the opening of the apple trees and corn maze, some people were ready: customers eager to embrace autumn already were waiting at the farm when Scott arrived.

It was a sunny Saturday to cap off what state parks officials said was a busy summer for outdoor activities.

The weather drove high numbers of Connecticut residents and visitors to the state’s parks and beaches, Department of Energy and Evironmental Protection spokesman Chris Collibee said, though he added that DEEP officials have not yet tallied attendance during the first summer of a program eliminating parking fees for those with Connecticut-registered vehicles.

Attendance reached capacity at 19 state parks on July 4, an all-time high, he said.

“We had a very busy summer, given the many great weather weekends and high humidity, and so many visitors wanting to cool off,” Collibee said. The Passport to the Parks program, which added $10 to the vehicle registration fee for Connecticut car owners in exchange for waiving parking costs at state parks, helped the state reopen four previously closed campgrounds. It also will help officials predict funding for state parks, which in the past was dependent on the state budget and could be unpredictable, Collibee said.

“As the public’s awareness of the Passport to the Parks program increases, we anticipate that attendance will grow in the coming years,” he added.

Whether it was the weather or the free parking, parks across southeastern Connecticut still were bustling Saturday, with beachgoers, campers, swimmers and hikers taking advantage of the last long weekend.

Tents dotted the campground at Rocky Neck State Park, and teenagers buried each other on the beach there. A couple got married at Harkness Memorial State Park. People watched boats bobbing in the Thames River from the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park in downtown Norwich. And somewhere, probably, someone ordered a pumpkin spice latte.

m.shanahan@theday.com

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