Beaches Open for the Season

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For the first time in several years, the official beach-opening ceremony took place on Beach 17th Street. Everyone took in the pristine sight of downtown’s Caribbean-esque beaches while gathered in front of DredSurfer Grill, which was ready to serve up jerk chicken and other Caribbean delicacies to guests on the beautiful morning of Friday, May 24.

The ceremony had a party vibe with a young steel drum band banging out modern hits, even the “Baby Shark” song, double-dutch jumpers, giveaways from NYC Ferry and even a watershow off the water from the FDNY fireboat. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilman Donovan Richards, Congressman Gregory Meeks, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, new Queens Parks Commissioner Mike Dockett, Community Board 14 District Manager Jon Gaska, and even the elusive Assemblywoman Michele Titus made an appearance at the ceremony to declare the beaches officially open for summer.

“The full beach is open,” declared NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, who led the ceremony, recalling last year’s beach opening that included a mock funeral after the city made a last-minute decision to close a stretch of Rockaway Beach due to erosion. With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completing recently completing a replenishment project from Beach 92nd to Beach 105th to avoid another summer of closures, there was a lot to celebrate, but Silver acknowledged that more needs to be done, especially in the Beach 30s, which is also heavily eroded.

“The entire beach, this year will be open, after a major sand replenishment effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That’s a great step forward, but we know there’s more work to be done in the Rockaways. There are erosion hotspots in the Beach 30s as well and we’re going to work with the Army Corps so they can get their long-term replenishment and resiliency project going, which will include new jetties, additional sand and reinforced dunes. But it's really nice to be here in Far Rockaway to kick off the summer season.” 

The decision to have the beach opening ceremony at Beach 17th Street was due to the request of Councilman Donovan Richards, who was hoping more beaches would be open in Far Rockaway this summer. While that’s still being worked out, Richards celebrated other aspects of downtown. “The beach is now officially opening. We have the ferry shuttle moving, we have the Lime bikes, many people spoke of DredSurfer Grill and I want people to know we have a beautiful restaurant down here that offers really good jerk chicken and ginger beer,” he said.

“There’s no place like the Rockaways, the culture, the grittiness, our tourism is booming, we have a lot of opportunity right here and the beach and summer season symbolizes a great resurgence for our local businesses, a thriving community, and this is one of the most beautiful parts of our beach,” he said about Beach 17th. But wherever people go, Richards spoke of how Rockaway’s beaches are a place that unites people from all walks of life. “This beach brings everyone together. Young and old, black and white, Jewish and Christian and Muslim, it really symbolizes what America is about,” he said.

The beaches are officially open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. when lifeguards are on duty. They will be open through the Sunday after Labor Day, September 8.

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