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Thousands Flock To NYC Beaches For Unofficial Start To Summer

ORCHARD BEACH, N.Y. (CBS 2) -- Residents in New York City swarmed area beaches for Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial kickoff of summer on Saturday.

Beaches got busy in the early morning hours, with crowds eager for some fun in the sun, reports CBS 2's Christine Sloan.

Beaches in the Big Apple, like at Coney Island, opened for business for the first time this season.

Hundreds of people spent the day at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, soaking in the sunshine, and they couldn't have asked for a better day to begin the summer season.

"It's a beautiful day, definitely a beautiful day, to be outdoors with the family," said Bronx resident Jeanette DeLeon.

Orchard Beach is enjoying new sand this year, much of it man-made, and beachgoers said it nearly doubled the size of the beach.

"Just by walking the boarwalk, you can see it's cleaner, [and] clearer," Bronx resident Veronica Caban said. "Also, the sand is much more fresh, you can tell that also."

There was lots of room for beachgoers, and as a result of the new law banning smoking at city beaches and parks, there was also no lighting up on the beach.

"I just don't like the smoke – the smell of it," Alyce Cinzano said.

Others, though, wanted to put out the new law, protesting at Brighton Beach.

Some beachgoers said they didn't understand why a smoking ban was needed outdoors.

"I wouldn't really care if someone smokes next to me, actually," Rebecca Pabst said.

Still, the majority of people on the beach – from Coney Island to Orchard Beach – just wanted to enjoy playing and swimming after a long winter and spring. There were plenty of swimmers, despite the cold waters.

"It is cold, [but] it's good – we're doing it," Jeannie Lopez, of the Bronx, said.

Lifeguards did issue a warning for swimmers, however. As beautiful as the water might look, swimmers should watch out for rip currents that can take you under.

Ryan Rodriguez's mother wasn't taking any chances, making him wear a life vest at all times.

"When I go in the water with my life jacket, I actually float," he said.

Life guards will be on duty between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. this summer. Going in the water at other times is prohibited.

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