Yes, it’s going to be different but don’t look now: the 2013 summer season is here. In this, the First Summer After Sandy, there will be a mix of old, new, and not quite ready. And that mix is on full display at the boardwalk islands unveiled today – Friday – at a ceremony at Beach 86th Street.
The old can be seen in the Robert Moses buildings still standing above the beaches; the new can be seen in distinct lifeguard and comfort stations.
In the Not Quite Ready category are the celebrated boardwalk concessions on the islands at Beach 86th, Beach 97th and Beach 106th Streets. The NYC Parks Department declared the beaches open today at a ceremony at Beach 86th Street but after several weeks of round-the-clock construction, it seems at least two of the three concession stands are still a few weeks away from being fully operational. Unconfirmed reports suggested that the Beach 86th Street spot, Rippers, was the lone concession ready to rock and roll on the first day of the summer season.
And whether the concessions are ready or not, the lifeguards are certainly ready. They’ll be protecting swimmers starting Saturday and will be on their chairs every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Labor Day.
Although some businesses are gone, some residents remain displaced, and a continuous boardwalk won’t be in place, there are many hopeful signs that portend a happy, successful summer.
The A Train is scheduled to come back on line May 30th. The much appreciated ferry is still running from Beach 108th Street and the American Princess ferry out of Fort Tilden announced plans to begin service this weekend. And Rockabus, the yellow school bus service which began rolling last summer, will again be delivering DFDs (those who come Down For the Day) from Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.
Other hopeful signs can be found in the return of some Rockaway mainstays. Great sunsets, fun, food, and drink can once again be enjoyed at The Wharf, Bungalow Bar and Thai Rock. And off the bay, Connelly’s, Rockaway Taco, the Irish Circle, and Jameson’s are ready for summer fun as well.
Sayra, a wine bar and Uma’s, an Uzbekistan restaurant, are new arrivals on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. And just a few blocks west, the old Tap and Grill was sold and is being transformed into a bar restaurant and mini-hotel.
The Rockaway Little League, the St. Francis Summer Classic Basketball League, and the Rockaway Beach Volleyball League are traditions that will carry on. In Far Rockaway, the Stack Bundles basketball league is up and running.
Surf schools are already open and the annual Rockstock and Barrels Surf Festival is scheduled for June 22nd. Parks officials have said many other events will happen throughout the summer.
While it will be different, most locals are looking forward to the season —- and the reason they live here. Steve Stathis, owner of Boarders Surf Shop said, “Hey, it’s Rockapulco. If I have to explain it, you’re not going to get it.”