Sunshine and sandcastles abound as Brooklyn’s beaches open for summer season

coney island beach brooklyn
Cool water temperatures didn’t deter visitors from taking a dip in the ocean as the city’s beaches opened for the summer on Memorial Day Weekend.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

With sunshine abound and temperatures hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Saturday certainly felt like the start of summer as thousands flocked to Coney Island to kick off Memorial Day weekend and celebrate the opening of the city’s beaches for the summer. 

The chilly water temperature of 64.1° F didn’t deter some brave beach frolickers from taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean under the watchful eyes of the city’s lifeguards, while others opted to lounge on the beach to soak in the sunny skies, build sandcastles, or play soccer and beach volleyball.

lifeguards on coney island beach
Lifeguards were on duty on Coney Island Beach opening day. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
ice cream seller on coney island boardwalk
An ice-cream vendor sells her frosty delights to beachgoers. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“Our free public beaches are an essential part of summer for New Yorkers,” said parks commissioner Sue Donoghue, in a statement. “They’re great places to cool off, relax, and enjoy time with family and friends, and we’re committed to making sure that all of our beaches are clean, safe, and attractive destinations. There’s so much to see and do at our beaches, from a new nature preserve in the Rockaways to the iconic amusement rides in Coney Island, and we’re thrilled to welcome back New Yorkers and visitors for another season of summer fun!”

Brooklynites Patty Swiatkowski and Madison Sanchez were lounging under a beach tent, taking in the sights and sounds of summer. Swiatkowski said she has been coming to Coney Island Beach for her entire life, 48 years. 

women under beach tent in coney island
Brooklynites Madison Sanchez and Patty Swiatkowski enjoy Coney Island’s sense of community. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
people in ocean at coney island
Some visitors frolicked in the cold ocean water. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“It’s Brooklyn, that’s the draw,”  Swiatkowski declared. “The people, the environment, the air, the water.” 

“Honestly, the sense of community. Everybody comes here, no matter what part of New York you’re from,” Sanchez added. “It’s great.” 

Dominic Barron, a 15-year-old from Long Island, said he and his family visit Coney Island twice a month during the summer. Barron liked Coney Island’s vibe. 

coney island beachgoers
The beaches are open to the public daily through September. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
double dutch on coney island boardwalk
Locals enjoyed a game of double dutch on the boardwalk. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“People just come out here, and they’re open to everything. They express their culture, that’s what I like about [Coney Island],” Barron said. 

Brave Brooklynites took a spin on the world’s second-steepest wooden roller coaster, the Cyclone, while others enjoyed the rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park. 

The boardwalk was abuzz with visitors enjoying fresh Italian gelato from Coney’s Cone, chowing down Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, or watching the happenings on the boardwalk while sitting at Coney Island staples Rudy’s Bar and Grill or Tom’s Coney Island, enjoying an ice cold brew.

line in front of nathan's famous
A long line formed in front of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Thunderbolt in Coney Island
Thrill seekers took a spin on the Thunderbolt. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Renee, sporting a United States Marine Corps baseball hat, served as a reminder of what Memorial Day is all about. He was a U.S. Marine from 1970-1978 and recently moved from Illinois to Brooklyn.

“You have to remember those who passed away for us,” Renee said. “It is not just a party. A lot of [soldiers] died. And they celebrate them on Memorial Day. That’s what [Memorial Day] means.”

people with giant banana on coney island boardwalk
People stroll down the boardwalk. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
people playing music on steeplechase pier
Steeplechase Pier is a popular spot for salsa musicians and dancers. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Brooklyn’s beaches — Coney Island Beach, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan beach — are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and beachgoers can enjoy the water as long as lifeguards are on duty. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty or in closed sections marked with signs or red flags. Lifeguard shortages have forced the city to limit swimming at some city beaches over the last few years, but the Adams administration on Friday reached a new contract with the lifeguard union — which officials hope will ease the shortage.

The next big Coney Island celebration is the 42nd annual Mermaid Parade on Saturday, June 22, which kicks off at 1 p.m. on West 21 and Surf Avenue.