July 4th weekend - VisitLongBeachNY.com - Long Beach, New York
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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July 4th weekend

City officials said that record-breaking crowds came to Long Beach during the July Fourth weekend, creating heavy traffic and filling bars and restaurants.
Surfer Matt Hurd hit Long Beach on Sunday.
Greg Levine and Melanie Reilly share a kiss in Long Beach on July 4.

"You can tell when the trains arrive, because there's a massive amount of people walking to the beach," said Jordan Vega of Manhattan as he caught some rays on the beach last Sunday afternoon.

Vega, a Great Neck native and a surfer, said he wouldn't think of going anywhere else but Long Beach. "It's definitely one of the more crowded weekends, and I'm usually here every July Fourth," he said. "This is the first time — the best time — that there have been three consistent days of sunshine on the Fourth, which is rare. When there's surf, I usually hit Lincoln, but this week it's been pretty flat. When there's no surf, we hang at Riverside, which is where a lot of people we know from the city usually go."

Vega was one of thousands of people who visited Long Beach last weekend, as temperatures climbed into the 90s. People from all over New York and Long Island came out to escape the sweltering heat.

Elan Harris, 38, took a packed train to Long Beach last Saturday from Brooklyn with his girlfriend, Laura Lyn DiSiena, and enjoyed the beach near Edwards Boulevard.

"There are loads of people," said Harris, a graphic illustrator who was reading a book. "There's a nice breeze, a lot of people on the beach and the crowd is mixed — a bunch of cool, chill people. The people aren't loud, and it's a really nice crowd. The water is kind of chilly but we beat the heat."

The weekend was a boon for the city's businesses, with city officials saying that the holiday and the weather drew record-breaking crowds. "It certainly was a record-breaking three days, although actual sales figures are not yet compiled," said City Manager Charles Theofan. "This was just a great weekend."

From the West End to the East End, city officials and residents said that the beaches were teeming with people and local bars and restaurants were bustling all weekend. "This has to be the largest weekend for Long Beach, especially for the merchants," said Warren Vegh, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "The restaurants and local pubs probably tripled their business, and at the same time I would say the clothing stores and boutiques are doing fabulous business as well, especially down west where people are buying beachwear. I know that down west, at the Beach House and Minnesota's and many other establishments, business was fantastic. And also down on the East End, where we have Monterey and Sutton Place, it was booming."

This was the first July Fourth weekend for the Allegria Hotel on West Broadway, and from what General Manager Thomas Puccio said, things couldn't have been better. "Over three nights, we ran some of the best occupancies we've had all year," Puccio said. "We had more than 90 percent occupancy, while the Atlantica Restaurant, which seats 100 people, had nearly 900 covers just for dinner alone. It was a really great weekend."

Kevin Madison, a manager at Lola's Kitchen and Wine Bar on West Park Avenue, said business definitely benefited from the nice weather and that he expects it to be a busy summer, especially with the recent opening of the Allegria, many of whose guests come to Lola's. "This is the weekend we start," Madison said. "It was insane – we were jam-packed Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Our sales increased tremendously this weekend. We're definitely getting into the busy season now and we're seeing a lot more out-of-towners."

For many residents, however, the holiday weekend meant enduring heavy traffic and big crowds at the beach, bars and supermarkets. For Barbara Bernardino, who lives on the bay, that meant altering her daily routine.

"When summer comes, the impact on my life is tremendous — I won't go to the beach on the weekend because parking is a pain," she said. "But that's our economy and I suck it up."

Rick Hoffman, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, said that the traffic and bar crowds can often impede residents' lives — especially those who live on West Beech Street. "It does get tough for some residents who live near the bars, and as hard as the Police Department tries, the crowds are just huge and you do have the spillover," Hoffman said. "Parking was out of control. The bottom line is there are not enough spots for the multitude of cars we have. But this is also the time for the merchants, these three and a half months, and our Police Department constantly tells residents that if there's a quality-of-life issue, make the call."

For the 130 lifeguards on duty, it was a busy weekend as well, although the ocean was relatively calm. "There was a ton of people and it was great for the city, and the lifeguards did an outstanding job," Chief of Lifeguards Paul Gillespie said, adding that Long Beach had some spillover from Jones Beach. "We were getting the overflow from Jones, and we had a ton of city people going everywhere, east and west."

Scott Kemins, chief of the city's Fire Department, said that the department fielded roughly 100 calls over the weekend, mostly for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. "We had a decent amount of calls, many heat-related," Kemins said. "We did take some people to area hospitals, including a 14-year-old girl. We had our share of beach calls ..."

Theofan said that one swimmer, who went into the water late at night, had to be rescued but was not injured.

Longtime lifeguard Ray Ellmer, who works near Edwards Boulevard, said lifeguards made roughly 1,000 "preventive rescues" and were moving people in the water to safe areas, since the beaches were so packed that swimmers tended to head for unguarded areas outside the red flags.

"We found a lot of lost kids and reunited them with their parents," Ellmer said. "I can't compliment the lifeguards enough — we literally had thousands of people in the water."

"They were being ultra-careful, and they only allowed you to swim directly in front of them," Harris said of the lifeguards.

Vega ended up in the West End, where he grabbed some food at the Beach House later Sunday evening. "There was definitely an increased presence of lifeguards and police, but it was pretty calm," he said. "I would say the public's knowledge of these recent drownings maybe made people say, 'OK, I won't swim out so far.'"

Comments about it? ARifilato@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 213.


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