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Summer Kicks Off With Special Meaning For Sandy-Ravaged Areas

Coney Island, Seaside Heights Boardwalk Ready To Go

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The weather Saturday was perfect for a summer kickoff, and nearly eight months after Superstorm Sandy, this season has very special meaning.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, Coney Island was back in business Saturday, with a spectacular fireworks display kicking off the summertime experience Friday night.

“It’s amazing,” said Michael Belmonte of Astoria. “It’s perfect.”

With sun, sand and the gorgeous historic boardwalk as a backdrop, Belmonte had the right idea as he staked out a spot for the afternoon – as the colorful and spirited Mermaid Parade returns.

“It’s perfect for the parade,” he said. “Everybody’s going to get all dressed up and all dolled out, and it’s going to be wonderful.”

More than 1,500 people were expected to participate, celebrating art, and the spirit of one of the most famous oceanside communities in Brooklyn, at the Mermaid Parade. The parade was set to step off at 1 p.m. at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue, and hundreds of thousands of spectators were expected.

Organizers initially feared the parade would be canceled because they had too much debt after Superstorm Sandy, but an online fundraising effort saved the event.

“Brooklyn owes it to the city of New York, and to America, and the world to make sure that the Mermaid Parade continues this summer and all the summers to come,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Meanwhile, with the final screws in place, the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J., was all set Saturday for the first week of summer.

“This is the first time we’ve been here since the summer, and the working is amazing,” said Jen Woodland.

The recovery was nearly complete after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

“It’s remarkable, and it says a lot about the resiliency of the New Jersey people,” said New Jersey First Lady Pat Christie. “Come enjoy the boardwalk.”

And with the gorgeous weather, few can argue.

Meanwhile, beachgoers have been spotted basking in the rays, and in Nassau County, pools have opened officially after months of repairs from Sandy.

“They’re having such a wonderful time,” said Ruth Mangual of Valley Stream. “School’s out. Such perfect timing.”

The high on Saturday was expected to top out at 83 degrees – two degrees above normal – with sunny skies, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.

In Long Beach entertainer Billy Crystal announced a $1-million gift to the city. Crystal grew up in Long Beach and recruited long time friend and retired boxer Muhammad Ali to help in the fundraising efforts.

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