More than 100,000 people flocked to Rockaway Beach on Memorial Day to mark the unofficial start of summer. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
For early risers, Rockaway Beach can be almost a private playground on the sand and in the water.
"You want to beat the crowds because it's harder to get some good long rides in," said one resident. "I'm still learning and I have a lot to learn but at least I'll have some space."
As the day wore on Monday and the heat got more intense, the masses came.
Thousands of people headed to Rockaway Beach this Memorial Day weekend.
The seven-mile stretch along the Atlantic is an urban Mecca for surfers and those looking to soak in the ocean air.
Like all city beaches, swimming is only permitted while life guards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But at this time of year, getting into the water is only for the hearty.
Rockaway Beach is still recuperating from Irene. The Parks Department is hoping to finish $3.8 million dollars of repairs, primarily on the boardwalk, by late June.
"We've exhausted the New York supply of tropical lumber in the U.S.," said Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens Park Commissioner. "We're now bringing it in from Peru. As soon as it's done, we'll finish off the rest of the decking.
Even for those who had to work on the holiday weekend, the steamy weather proved good for business.
"This has been a really good weekend, like really exciting and motivating for the rest of the summer," said vendor Lillian Gerson.
And though they couldn't pull up a chair or throw down a towel and relax with everyone else, this was also a pretty good Memorial Day assignment for a reporter and her crew.