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Coney Island boardwalk comes to life, as NYC beaches reopen for Memorial Day Weekend

Coney Island Boardwalk comes to life for Memorial Day Weekend
Coney Island Boardwalk comes to life for Memorial Day Weekend 02:11

NEW YORK -- The beach is bound to be a popular destination this Memorial Day Weekend for the unofficial kickoff to summer.

Before you hit the surf, experts have some important safety advice.

It didn't take long after the metal gates went up at Nathan's Famous on the Coney Island Boardwalk on Friday for crowds to show up for their iconic hot dogs. Business is starting to boom.

"I hope they get to make their money," Coney Island resident Gonzallo Morales said. "It will be full of people. I hope everyone has a ball."

That's exactly what they're hoping for at nearby Pete's Clam Stop and Williams Candy.

"It's our start, so we get excited," said Peter Agrapides, who owns both shops.

"You start to see how the season is going to be like, when everyone comes at you," manager Nili Cuautle added.

From the boardwalk to the beach, there will be thrills all over Coney Island this weekend. It will be full of tourists, like one CBS2 met visiting from France.

"We just thought we would go because... on the social medias, I saw that it was nice," she said. 

Locals also plan on enjoying it, like Ana Carapostol, who said she likes "everything" about it.

"People come, walk around, have fun," she said.

This year, the boardwalk is celebrating its 100th birthday. Roxi Voorhees says her family has been around for most of it.

"My kids are fifth generation same block," she said.

She and her friend were keeping up with tradition, as they do every year.

"We can't wait to go to the beach, just going to hang out," she said. 

The fun in the sun can't start without lifeguards. So officials are warning to wait to go into the water until they go on duty Saturday.

But for the second year in a row, a lifeguard shortage is threatening to sink some summer plans.

"The city needs 1,400 lifeguards total, but only about 500 are currently in the pipeline," Parks Department Commissioner Sue Donoghue said.

Coney Island Beach opens to kick off summer season 02:33

While the city may be short staffed, lifeguards will still be present.

"It is imperative that you only go in the water when there is a lifeguard on duty," Donoghue said.

Once lifeguards are on duty Saturday, they will be there every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Beach goers said the water is also uncomfortably cold.

"It's a little early for the beach, but to be on these rides and to see everyone at the beach and together having some time off, that's great. I love that. Really special," said Anthony Aiello of Prospect Heights.

Coney Island is both a place for thrills and chills. On Friday, water temperatures were just under 60 degrees, which isn't the comfortable level for taking a dip.

"I went in before and it's really cold, so I don't think I'm gonna go in again, too early," said Jaylene Medina of Bay Ridge.

Sark Johannsen, visiting from Hamburg, Germany, is used to the cold waters. Throughout the beach red flags are posted advising beach goers not to swim.

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