By Oscar Marquez and Mattie Williams
Mark Ballard stood ankle deep in Lake Michigan at Loyola Beach, holding his dog’s leash. He walks the dog nearly every day, “winter and summer,” and not even a beach hazard warning by the National Weather Service could change that.
Monday’s warning for Cook and Lake counties predicted high wind speeds leading to waves between four and seven feet, with “life threatening rip currents.” Residents were urged to stay out of the water, but that didn’t stop everyone.
Some, like Ballard, were just walking. But others played in the sand.
Megan Galeener and Amy Brubaker sat near the edge of the sand as their children played together. Galeener and her two children visit the beach frequently, but she usually doesn’t let them go in the water, regardless of the weather conditions.
“Most of the time when we are here, the waves are okay and they ride along the shoreline, never far out.” Galeener said.
The red flag, indicating a swim ban, was perched on a lifeguard chair.