Beaches full for unofficial kickoff to summer

May 28, 2011 4:12:15 PM PDT
It's the unofficial kickoff to summer, and what a weekend it will be.

After a long winter, we deserve it. Record snowfall, freezing temperatures and what seemed to be a winter that never ended.

Temperatures are on the way up and it's time to enjoy it.

So grab the sun block and towel and head for the beach. New York City opened its beaches on Saturday.

The city says 19 million people last year enjoyed its 14 miles of sand and water - three times more than the previous year. But it cautions everyone to observe beach rules and stay out of the water when lifeguards aren't on duty.

It's the first year beaches are smoke-free. The city issued the anti-smoking ban this week for all city parks, beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas.

For a different waterfront experience, the city on Friday opened Governors Island for the season. Visitors can hop a ferry and enjoy biking, walking and various cultural events on the island.

It'll be open Friday to Sunday, and holiday Mondays, through Sept. 25.

Click here for a list of some the Memorial Day events happening this weekend in the New York area.

On Saturday there were record crowds at Orchard Beach in the Bronx as several thousand turned out for this "start" to summer.

The crowds were enjoying the multi-million dollar improvements to the jewel of the city's parks system.

"We're the Riviera of New York City, as it was termed in the '30's when it opened," said Pehlam Bay Park Administrator Marianne Anderson.

Anderson believes people are ready for a day at the beach.

"I think people were cooped up so much we may get a really big crowd this weekend and we're ready for it," Anderson said.

The Army Corp of Engineers moved in with large scale improvements.

They trucked in a total of 268,000 cubic yards of sand to make the little more than mile-long beach much larger than it used to be.

This Memorial Day weekend is all about having fun and a good time is expected if you head to Orchard Beach.