The Rockaway Boardwalk is now open in its entirety for the first time since Hurricane Sandy tore it to bits back in 2012. NY1's Erin Clarke has the story from Queens.
The lifeguards are out. And city beaches are officially open.
"The sun is so bright and it so beautiful and the temperature is just right," said one beachgoer. "It feels really good"
"It's a beautiful day," said another. "It's Memorial Day weekend so you've got to capitalize before the masses show up."
Here in the Rockaways though it's no ordinary beach opening. It's a celebration.
"No more cranes and bulldozers," said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. "Just sun, sand and surf."
Nearly five years after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Rockaways boardwalk, beachgoers can finally stroll down the full 5.5 mile stretch — which is now made of concrete.
"We have all these new concessions and amazing food and there's just a lot more options now," said one local.
"It was a real devastation five years ago and now to see the metamorphoses into something that Rockaway has to offer, I'm really pleased. I'm really happy," said another.
The project was done in phases and is being hailed a success by the parks department. It came in under budget and on time for the holiday weekend.
"We wanted to make sure that we would be able to put this boardwalk back so that people could enjoy," said Parks Commissioner Silver. "It affected the businesses. It affected the psyche of this community and now it's safer its stronger is better and it's absolutely beautiful."
Still, residents and elected officials say there's more work to be done in areas like here near beach 94th Street where sand erosion is a serious problem.
"Sooner or later a hurricane is going to come, not even a hurricane, a major nor'easter is going to come and we're going to have flooding again," said Co-founder Friends of Rockaway Beach Eddy Pastore. "Main issue is that fortifying these beaches so that any kind of storm doesn't devastate us."
They are hoping for a permanent solution to fortify their beach against any future threat to all the progress this community has made.