CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- With Memorial Day weekend being one of the biggest beach weekends of the year, Carolina Beach businesses prepare for the crowds and hope for the best.
With summer rolling into Carolina Beach, so are this season's tourists. That means good things for local business.
"It's kind of our kickoff to the whole year," said Greg McGinnity, the general manager of Pleasure Island Rentals at Carolina Beach. He says Memorial Day is a big business weekend.
Many business owners share his excitement and expectations.
"Very big, very big," Havana's Restaurant owner Pete Donat said of the business he's expecting. "We've actually hired an additional dozen employees over last year, and we are getting a lot of phone calls, lot of reservations booking up here on the island. We are very optimistic."
"We are actually 70 percent ahead of where we were last year at this time for the Memorial Day weekend, and we really feel like that's a positive trend for the whole summer," said Joy Donat, property manager for Intracoastal Realty.
With the economy slowly bouncing back along with the potential of lower gas prices, business owners understand that means not just a successful Memorial Day weekend, but also a good summer.
"The anticipation that gas prices are going to go down a little bit definitely is getting people excited about coming down to the beach, especially from areas that they can drive," Joy Donat said.
And based on the license plates in Pleasure Island parking lots, that drive can be a long one, with cars from as far away as Texas and Ohio.
"It seems like we are getting a better influx of people than last year," McGinnity said. "We have some things going on as far as gas goes, and that kind of thing, which directly effects our business. Obviously the weather. Weather's perfect this weekend, so we are looking forward to a good one."
And with events like the Carolina Beach Boardwalk amusement park kicking off this weekend that will bring in even more tourists, the only thing that can dampen spirits is the weather.
"As long as we keep the storms away in August and September, I think it's going to be a record-breaking summer," Pete Donat said.
Events at Carolina Beach start tonight. In addition to the amusement park, there will be a fireworks show.