Service members in town for "Fleet Week" helped start summer with an opening ceremony for the Coney Island beach Thursday.
Though city beaches don't officially open until Saturday, members of the Marines, Coast Guard, and Navy were on hand for a special ceremony.
Beach-goers may notice the biggest change to city beaches this summer: smoking is now banned on all of them.
"It's gonna be great for people's health," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. "People won't be exposed to second-hand smoke. It'll be great for children who won't be watching smokers and learning how to smoke. It's great for Coney Island. It's great for the city."
"The beaches of New York are really some of the best bargains around," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "They're open, they're safe, they're free. We don't discriminate against non-residents. You can get there by mass transit."
"Coney Island began the whole amusement park concept in America," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "All the rest try to copy Coney Island. But you can't copy what's the original and still the best."
Lifeguards will patrol the beaches daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day weekend.
Swimming is prohibited at all other times.