And We’re Back!

 And We’re Back!

By by Kailey Aiken

And just like that, summer is back in full swing in Rockaway. Beaches officially opened on Saturday, May 25, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day for the summer season. While there are still many beach closures due to construction and a lack of manpower, there are sections of every shack other than 117 staffed with lifeguards. Once more returning guards pass the test and the new class of horns (rookies) is sent to the beach, more beaches are expected to be opened.

Last Tuesday, a beach opening ceremony was held at the amphitheater on Beach 94th Street, where speeches and remarks about our community were given to welcome the summer season before the lifeguards hit the sand on Saturday morning.

Our first day back was sunny and warm, and the beach was filled out before noon at some of our busier beaches like 97, 86, and 106. While most of us found the ocean to be freezing for more than a quick dip, the water was swarming with beachgoers all day long, hanging out on the sandbar and swimming for hours as if it was a mid-July day.

Sunday started out as another cloudless, sunny day but heavy fog began to roll in around noon and stayed for the remainder of the day. It became misty and sticky out, but that did not deter any beachgoers, at least not on Beach 97th Street. By 3 p.m., we had to get off of the chairs to patrol the water from the shoreline since the fog was so thick, it was becoming difficult to see people going too far out in the ocean. One of the infamous rip currents by 97th Street led to the shack’s first case (rescue) of the season on only our second day on the beach.

It is extremely easy for people, especially smaller children, to be pulled out by the rip very quickly, even if they had no intention of swimming out far. This is why it is so important for people who are unfamiliar with the ocean to educate themselves on how to avoid and escape rip currents. Many times, the safety of a sandbar is only feet away from the deep part of the ocean the rip has pulled someone into, but because they don’t know that, and don’t know how to swim parallel to the rip, they will panic and begin to struggle. Signs and infographics about the ocean’s dangers and rip currents are available at many of the concessions, but not many tourists or visitors see or understand their significance.

Memorial Day was colder and rainy for the majority of the day and not many people made the trip down to the beach. It seems that Rockaway always has some form of inclement weather at some time during Memorial Day weekend, to the point where it would almost feel off if it wasn’t miserable out for at least one day. But I guess there’s always next year.

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