Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn beach season starts Saturday. Here’s what you need to know.

May 23, 2019 Scott Enman
Coney Island. Photo by Paul Frangipane
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Summer doesn’t technically begin until June 21, but Saturday marks the unofficial start of the season: the opening of New York City public beaches.

Temperatures are shaping up to be beautiful and balmy with not a drop of rain on the forecast. Saturday, Sunday and Monday will all be mostly sunny and 71, 84 and 79 degrees respectively. In other words: perfect beach weather.

From Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to Coney Island, Brooklyn has miles and miles of beautiful coastline, and the good news is that New York Harbor is cleaner than any time in the past century.

The beaches officially open at 10 a.m., so grab your towel and your favorite swimsuit and get out early to lay claim to prime sandy real estate.

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Coney Island

Coney Island. Photo by Paul Frangipane
Coney Island at sunset. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Coney Island is so much more than a beach: people-watching on the boardwalk, delicious food at Nathan’s and lots and lots of amusements.

Take a ride on the iconic Cyclone roller coaster, celebrate the Wonder Wheel’s 99th birthday or tour the Coney Island Aquarium.

Later in the summer, be sure to take part in weekly movie nights, Friday night fireworks and the 37th Annual Mermaid Parade on June 22.

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach. Photo by Lore Croghan
Brighton Beach. Photo by Lore Croghan

For a quieter alternative to the “People’s Playground,” head to Brighton Beach and be sure to wander around “Little Odessa,” a cluster of Eastern European stores and restaurants.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach. Photo by Paul Frangipane
Manhattan Beach. Photo by Lore Croghan

Just a bit further east, Manhattan Beach offers a smaller, family-friendly atmosphere. Bring a picnic basket, barbecue provisions and be sure to check out events at On Stage at Kingsborough, which offers world-class jazz and other concerts at The Lighthouse’s outdoor bandshell.

Remembering summers on Coney Island

In honor of the beach season opening this weekend, we’ve selected some anecdotes from the Coney Island History Project’s oral history archives.

Connie Scacciaferro grew up in Ridgewood and made the trek to Coney Island often with her family in the 1930s as a child and later as a teenager in the ’40s.

“Our family had blankets and shopping bags and sandwiches and drinks,” she said. “We’d all go on a ride of our choice. My father always let us go on a ride. The little ones went on the merry-go-round, and I went on the roller coaster. The beach was always crowded, crowded with blankets, and the sands were hot and the water was wonderful, and it was families from all over.”

“Everybody had their best bathing suit on — the girls,” she added. “We wore bathing caps because when we took them off we didn’t want our hair to look all wet and straggly. We were always conscious of the way we looked. We had to always have curly hair.”

Bill Zeidenberg grew up in the 1950s and ’60s at 212 Brighton First Court right on the border of Coney Island and Brighton Beach. He remembers his first summer job working for the M. & C. Chair Operating Company, a chair and umbrella rental concession.

“It was my first job. … During the summer season there must have been 35 stands all up and down the beach,” he said. “Lots of kids grew up here in Coney Island working for M. & C.”

“The first summer, I actually carried chairs,” he added. “You’d gather in the morning, and you’d be assigned a stand along the beach. … We were paid primarily by tip. The recommended tip was 10 cents per item that you carried out. I remember I could make on a good Sunday $23 just in tips. It was a lot of chairs to carry!”

Lifeguards are on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day weekend.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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