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Coney Island Ceremony Marks Kickoff Of Summer Season In NYC

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A celebration on Coney Island marked the kickoff of the summer season in New York City.

At a ceremony Thursday morning, officials announced city beaches will open at 10 a.m. Saturday for the Memorial Day weekend.

EXTRAS: Best Beaches In New York City | New York City’s Best Hot Dogs

“It’s going to be packed,” Coney Island resident Kiera Baker told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “A lot of people, excitement, new rides — a lot of stuff going on.”

For business owners, the three-day weekend is critical, especially for places like Tom’s Restaurant which is open year-round but was devastated by the brutal winter.

“We just hope to get off on the right foot,” said Jimmy Kokotas of Tom’s Restaurant. “It’s a short season, very weather dependent, so we hope the sun comes out this weekend.”

A new ride in Luna Park on Coney Island, called Luna 360, opened in tandem with the kickoff ceremony Thursday. The attraction swings riders 360 degrees while a car also spins.

Thrill seekers can also brave the new Thunderbolt roller coaster.

According to Luna Park’s website, the new ride is the first custom-built coaster in Coney Island since The Cyclone in 1927. The coaster features a vertical drop with loop after loop.

Back in March, Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusement International, said the ride will be Luna Park‘s “wow coaster.”

“In addition to that we do have new concessions, some additional new rides within Luna Park, Rita’s Ice Cream, as well as some new shops,” said Alliance for Coney Island’s executive director Johanna Zaki.

Coney Island residents said the growth is especially meaningful because it represents resilience, being able to bounce back even better after Superstorm Sandy.

“You can’t believe it’s the same place you’re looking at now,” said Coney Island resident Gromoe Dennis. “It is a new place, a new boardwalk, beach, a lot of new things. It changed in a good way.”

Luna Park has been open on weekends and selected weekdays since April.

Park officials say even though the beaches open this weekend, swimming is only allowed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. when lifeguards are on duty.

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