Cape Cod businesses prepare for unofficial start of summer, AAA expects travel increase

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HYANNIS – They’re fired up for the holiday weekend at Pizza Barbone in Hyannis, hoping tourists will be flocking to Main Street. “It kicks off summer and we’re ready to see how the crew does and make sure they have all cylinders firing to take on a big influx of customers,” said restaurant owner Jason O’Toole.

If the weather is any indication, and the long line of cars trying to get over the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, there’s reason for optimism.

The more they fold sweatshirts at Seaside Collections, the more they hope to sell after a cool and rainy spring. “It’s been a long winter, and the spring weather was not the most cooperative. We’re excited for the gorgeous weather to be here,” said owner Sophia Macheras.

She’s also struggling with a worker shortage that has forced her to reduce her store hours and is hoping more potential employees will walk through the door along with tourists. “We don’t have a lot of people in the evening, so we had to shorten our hours,” she said. “Sadly, our dedicated employees are having to work some very long shifts.”

AAA expects travel to exceed pre-pandemic levels    

AAA of Northeast expects Memorial Day weekend travel will be up 4% over last year, and that travel by car will be record breaking. “We project 44 million travelers are going to head out this holiday weekend which beats last year. And the big headline is that it exceeds pre-pandemic levels for the first time,” said spokeswoman Jillian Young.

The Villegas family from Virginia is among them, finding the Cape the perfect getaway, and got a start ahead of the expected traffic. “That was the game plan for leaving early. We took the kids out of school Thursday and left around 6 a.m.,” said Daniel Villegas.

Just over the Sagamore Bridge with his bike in tow, Kevin Riley says he doesn’t doubt the travel numbers. “It seems like everybody is amped up, everybody wants to get out to do something and tired of being cooped up after winter days,” said Riley.

Now Cape businesses want to see those numbers add up. “You like to hear record breaking travel for the weekend,” said Jason O’Toole.   

“Kickoff to the big season”

As the sun set on Cape Cod Friday evening, summertime spirits were high. The good weather added to good moods as visitors pulled in for the weekend.

“We’re excited to be here because Memorial Day is the kickoff to the big season. The traffic gods were very kind to us and we packed our patience like they told us to,” said Dianne Crocker.

Visitors flock to Cape Cod for holiday weekend


“We got down here this afternoon, 495 the whole way. Went over the Bourne Bridge. The last two miles were a little bit but not a big deal,” said Mark Pauley.     

AAA encouraged drivers looking to avoid the worst traffic to take off early. Many must’ve listened, because locals along the Cape noticed a change in the air by Thursday.

“I tried to go to Falmouth from Hyannis, and it was, forever. But we know. You do food shopping on Wednesday afternoons and I’m glad to see everybody coming. It’s great,” said Neil Reney.

“We have a long winter and it’s nice to be able to enjoy this part of it. This is what we wait for. It’s what it’s all about,” said Chrissy Leduc.  

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