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Thursday, January 27, 2022

While Hurricane Irene surged across the East Coast this weekend, students in Gainesville took advantage of sunny blue skies at Ginnie Springs.

 Employees at the campground said the possibility of a storm didn't keep students away from the fresh water.

 "When the weather is extreme, we'll shut down," said Zack Woolfrey, an employee at the springs. "But we're pretty much in the middle of Florida, so we don't get hit by storms as often."

 Ariel Kimball, a supervisor at the park, said attendance over the weekend appeared normal.

 With its network of seven freshwater springs spread over 200 acres of land, it's not a matter of if students will come back, but when, Woolfrey said.

 Tubing is appealing to vacationers, families and students alike because of the scenery and relaxation, he said.

 The park can see up to 3,000 visitors on weekends.

 "Even on slow weekends, we see about 1,000 people," he said.

 Vacationers don't just come from surrounding areas, either.

 "The underwater cave systems are among the most intricate in the world, and we have visitors from all over the world," he said.

 Attendance will remain steady as long as the weather is warm, and the staff is anticipating big numbers on Labor Day.

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