Public Beaches Open for Memorial Day Weekend

Coney Island, along with the City’s other public beaches, opens for Memorial Day weekend. Image Credit: NYC Parks/ Malcolm Pinckney

The full opening of beaches follows last year’s limited and restricted summer season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 28, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that eight public beaches across the city will be open for swimming starting Saturday, May 29 and will be open through Sunday, September 12, 2021. Swimming will be permitted when lifeguards are on duty between 10 AM to 6 PM and is prohibited when lifeguards are off duty.

This year, beach capacity will not be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, face coverings will still be required in all Parks comfort stations and social distancing should still be practiced. 

The City’s beaches include Orchard Beach in the Bronx, Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, Rockaway Beach in Queens , and South Beach, Cedar Grove Beach, Wolfe’s Pond Beach and Midland Beach in Staten Island. The beaches combined stretch for about 14 miles.

The Mayor’s announcement came with details about amenities on or near the beaches that visitors can look forward to:

– On Coney Island, visitors can enjoy the new PHOENIX Family Thrill Roller Coaster at Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Fireworks displays will return every Friday at 9:30 PM. There is a new pump-track skate park at Steeplechase Plaza. Many of Coney Island’s famous eateries and attractions are ready for business after some have been closed since the end of the 2019 summer season. 

– On Orchard Beach, the Orchard Beach Nature Center will be open daily. The Parks Department will be hosting family-friendly events like movie nights, silent disco, a drive-in movie and beach volleyball.

– On Rockaway Beach, visitors can enjoy new eateries along the boardwalk, with some of the concessions staying open an extra hour until 11 PM. The Parks Department will host community events, fitness classes and other programming. 

– On Staten Island, visitors to South and Midland Beaches will have extended weekend hours on bike rentals, including cruisers, tandem bikes and Surrey bikes that can seat up to six people. 

– All beaches will have sunscreen dispensers providing free SPF 30 sunscreen. Dispensers will be located in or near all beach restrooms. 

Both the Parks Department and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are making efforts to make beaches safe for the summer. The Parks Department’s 2021 water safety campaign includes ads placed citywide to remind visitors to swim only in designated areas and during lifeguard hours. The campaign follows last year’s water safety campaign which included tips on water safety.

The Health Department is responsible for monitoring water quality to ensure swimmer safety. The Health Department encourages New Yorkers to stay informed on water quality safety by signing up for Notify NYC, to visit the Health Department’s Beach Water Quality Portal or sign up for “Know Before You Go,” a free text service that will inform users if beaches are closed due to water quality issues. To use “Know Before You Go” text “BEACH” or “PLAYA” to 877877. Users can also receive notice if beaches will be impacted by inclement weather. 

Later this summer, New Yorkers will also be able to enjoy NYC Parks outdoor pools, which reopen on Saturday, June 26th. 

Mayor de Blasio stated, “This summer will be the Summer of New York City and that’s not complete without a trip to one of our beautiful beaches. To all New Yorkers: have fun and stay safe!”

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP stated, “The summer heat has arrived, and with the return of swimming at our beaches, comes another step in our collective return to normalcy. It is with great pleasure that I say to all New Yorkers: grab your sunglasses, sunscreen, and swim gear — beach season is here! We want everyone to enjoy our eight public beaches this season, but it must be done safely – swimming is only allowed in designated areas, from 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. when lifeguards are on duty.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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