Holding the answers to all of life’s questions, this endless body of water is the life-blood of this city. She’s there every day with waves that crash and lights up every night as boats queue to head into New York harbor. With an open invitation to all, the ocean is a constant provider. The salty sea air is a cure for whatever ails while the crashing sound of the waves soothes the soul. She is a force to be reckoned with, a calming natural wonder and a source of life for all living things. Without her-we’d be just another city.
It’s been said that once you get a bit of Long Beach sand in your shoes it stays there for a lifetime. Summertime has our shores packed with visitors and locals alike. Volley-ballers unite on our sand and sun-worshippers delight in its warmth. Lifeguards patrol the sand and sea from May through September amidst surf competitions, all sorts of weather conditions and endless salt-air. Large orange lifeguard stands arrive each Memorial Day to signify the beginning of the season and although saddened by their disappearance on Labor Day, locals know that the beaches will quiet down and there will be even more room for chairs, surfboards and beach games. Long Beach sand is in my home, my car and my shoes. For me, any day with my toes in that sand is a good day.
3.The Laid Back Lifestyle
Flip-flops (thongs) are welcome everywhere. The uniform consist of shorts, t-shirts, bathers and sarongs for at least half of the year and the rest we’re rocking Long Beach surf attire just dreaming of the day when it’s warm enough for our skin to get some vitamin-D. Paddle surfers, kite-surfers and wave riders take to the ocean year round in layers of neoprene to have the chance to commune with the waves one more time. Polar Bear apparel commemorating the Super Bowl splash is ubiquitous. We don’t do fancy or high-strung. Sea air washes away stress and struggles and what’s left is that ‘no worries’ attitude of people knowing that we’re lucky enough to live by the sea year-round.
In the summer, people stay put. We park our cars on a Friday and don’t move them again till Monday (and that’s only if we have to). Bike paths make the cycling mode of transportation possible and you’ll see people walking, surfing, riding and skateboarding everywhere. There’s the beach, ocean, and boardwalk right at our fingertips. We have competitions, craft fairs, concerts, and restaurants and our city lights up the night’s sky over the ocean on the 4th of July. If the need for more adventure persists, Long Beach is just a short 50-minute train ride from Manhattan.
Our newly repaired 2.2-mile stretch of pure happiness is part of the Long Beach family. Hurricane Sandy destroyed the boardwalk and broke hearts in October of 2012; but in the spring of 2013 the entire city let out a collective sigh of relief when the pulse returned and the boardwalk reopened. Each step brings smiles and each journey breathes life. The boardwalk means so many different things to so many people. Firsts happen here. Summer thrives here and winter is that much less daunting because our friend, the boardwalk is always there with open arms and a heartfelt hug. Winter, spring, summer and fall the boardwalk is there to greet both visitors and locals with hope, answers, trust, friendship and a space to call home. Locals touch the railings at the end to make their walk truly count but we know that just being able to share some time on that boardwalk is enough to change the entire mood of a day. She breathes life and perspective into every footstep. There’s life in those boards and Long Beach wouldn’t be the same without her.