Heatwave Brings the Hordes

 Heatwave Brings the Hordes

by Kailey Aiken

The first heatwave of the summer has arrived, and beaches have been mobbed since last Friday. It’s been sunny and sweltering hot all week, and we all have the sunburns to show for it. With public schools off Monday for Eid and Juneteenth on Wednesday, we were expecting the weekend-like crowds for most of the week. On Saturday, Beach 97th was packed from open to close. The usual 4 p.m. wind skipped right over Rockaway, and it was a beautiful evening to stay on the beach.

Around 5 p.m., dolphins came by to feed close to shore. There were at least a dozen of them and they were very active, thrashing around and diving for fish, which led someone to believe that they were sharks, and then announce that there was a shark to the entire beach. People began screaming and running out of the water crying “shark!” like a scene out of “Jaws.” Parents ran to gather their children, friends left each other behind, and some abandoned boogie boards in the rush to get away from the “shark infested” waters. The entire beach stood on the shoreline recording, gasping in fear, and clapping in excitement, trying to decipher if the animals were sharks or dolphins. Many of the lifeguards just stood on our chairs watching and laughing. It made the last hour of the day fly by.

In addition to the typical nutcracker guys walking up and down the beaches, selling alcohol, 97 has seen a new vendor this week: two guys walking around with cartons of hard-boiled eggs, yelling “huevos, huevos, huevos!” I didn’t know warm hard-boiled eggs were a popular beach snack, but I’ve seen them make many successful sales.

The rumors that all new lifeguards are being sent to Coney Island can finally be put to rest, as first year guards and transfers have started arriving on the beach in Rockaway. As more guards pass the test, I assume they will continue to be sent to Rockaway. So far, the horns are being sent to 97 Shack for training.

More chairs have been added to some of our beaches, which hopefully means more lifeguards will be arriving soon. As the true summer season picks up, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep patrons out of the water on closed beaches, so opening as many beaches as possible with a sufficient number of lifeguards is crucial to a safe and successful summer.

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