Angel Island rebounding from massive fire, cuts 

Angel Island recorded record-breaking sales during the Memorial Day weekend and is anticipating a profitable summer following two years of sinking retail numbers.

Tourists indulging in concessions at Cove Cafe, the oyster bar and Segway tours broke three sales records during the holiday weekend, according to island General Manager Dee Wagner.

Angel Island also is bouncing back from a massive brush fire in October 2008 that burned more than half the 740-acre state park over two days and could be seen across the Bay, closing the island for the rest of the year.

The fire “eliminated the last half of our season,” Wagner said.

The former Army post during the start of the Civil War is known for its stunning views of San Francisco and Oakland skylines and its immigration station, where hundreds of Chinese touched California soil for the first time. The island is listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s 10 most-threatened historical sites and was recently visited by hundreds of travel charity volunteers from Tourism Cares to help restore it.

While concession sales waned, the island’s demand for campsites has remained steady through the 2008 fire and state budget cuts that slashed some of its bathroom hours, school programs and personalized bike tours, among other things.

“We’re pretty much filled up through the summertime on the weekends,” park Superintendent Gerald O’Reilly said. “This fiscal year, funding cuts have remained, but at least all the bathrooms are opened back up.”

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