By CBSLA Staff

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) – While thousands of people went to the beach this Labor Day, lifeguards who worked overtime for the holiday said the sand and surf wasn’t near as crowded as they expected.

Even with the lack of expected beachgoers, estimated at only around 20,000 people in the five mile stretch of Huntington Beach, lifeguards worked to keep people safe at Orange County beaches where waves were rolling in with head-high sets and rip currents remained a constant danger.

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Crowds at southland beaches were smaller than expected this Labor Day. (credit: CBS)

“I haven’t seen any rescues today, but when I’m near the shore, I keep an eye on the little kids, no matter who they belong too, right?” said Laguna Nigel resident GG Force.

At Aliso Creek Beach, lifeguards had to run into the surf to help swimmers caught in a strong shore break and there was also contact with a mother and child who were knocked over a by a big wave.

Farther north, four to five foot high conditions made for good surfing on both sides of the iconic Huntington Beach pier.

“Yeah, it was fun. I mean, it’s always good to get in the water even though the conditions aren’t really great, but it’s always nice to get in the water,” Newport Beach resident Kyle Edginton said.

Battalion Chief Doug Leach, of the Huntington Beach Lifeguards, said even with the high surf and rip currents, there have not been a lot of rescues needed.

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“So, we’ve had approximately 35 rescues throughout the weekend, which considering there’s some weekends where we’re in the hundreds, if not thousands, it’s a pretty mild weekend in that regard,” the Battalion Chief said.

Labor Day is all about time outdoors and celebrating with family. The Nguyens from Riverside made a feast and set it up on the sand. They planned well, leaving home at 6 a.m. to get to the beach.

“We were trying to get here early and wake up early,” Riverside resident Anna Nguyen said, “so we would have somewhere to park near where we were going to put all our stuff because we didn’t want all the spots taken.”

The Dilliner’s brought their youngest from Las Vegas to see Huntington Beach for the first time.

“Oh, it’s been fun. It’s been very chill, like even the atmosphere, the people, like everyone’s having fun. No one seems to have any issues. We’re all just here to enjoy it, you know, time to get back out after being locked up for so long,” Kalani Dilliner said.

As the day goes on, lifeguards said they expect the surf to pickup and have issued an estimated 1,000 warnings to people getting into potentially dangerous surf situations over the holiday weekend.

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