By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Even with high unemployment, experts predict a nice rebound in holiday travel and spending this Independence Day weekend.
The campgrounds are filling up fast with people who seem to be a little less uneasy compared to last year about the economy and when it comes to parting with their hard earned dollars.
During the last Independence Day weekend, the weak economy sent travel down about 20 percent. But this year, AAA Oklahoma expects a nearly 14% increase in the number of Oklahomans hitting the road.
Many of those will end up at the lake.
Delores Beeler is one of them. She says the economy cut back her camping the past year or so.
"With the 401(k) dropping down and nothing was for sure, nobody knew what was going to happen so, we did kind of cutback," she said.
But now, if you use the number of Oklahomans traveling this weekend as a gauge, an estimated 541,000, the economy seems to be improving.
"I think everybody feels a little better about the jobs they have currently," Beeler said.
Of course, there are some that go to the lake no matter what.
"All of our family gets together, all of our kids, all of our grandkids," said Carolyn Estep.
And those folks will spend a lot of money celebrating the holiday. A Forbes article shows a National Retail Federation study found that Americans will spend $92 million on chips.
"Ooh wow!" Debbie Hadley said.
"Craig Day, The News On 6: "$60 million on dip.
Carolyn Estep, camper: "Ooh, that's a lot of money, just for dip."
$193 million on hamburger patties; $161 million on the fixings and $203 million on mustard, ketchup and mayo.
"Hamburgers go with the lake," Estep said.
$111 million on charcoal.; $167 million for watermelons.
"I like it that well," said Connie Tucker.
Ooh," Estep said. "Everybody likes watermelon."
And popsicles? A cool $107 million.
"Sure keeps you cool," Tucker said. "That's the best part."
It all adds up to a really good time for folks with an appetite for fun, and a desire to relax about the recession and celebrate in spite of the poor economy.
Americans will also spend an estimated $600 million on fireworks this weekend, according to the American Pyrotechnic Association.