NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The long Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer driving and beach season.

Thousands are hitting the road and getting out of town this holiday weekend while others will stick around and hit area beaches.

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Beachgoers flocked to Coney Island to kick off the unofficial start of summer, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.

But as the title “unofficial” suggests, Saturday’s temperatures were not exactly cooperating, leaving those who did brave the water feeling numb.

“Crazy cold, but great; refreshing some would say, others would say you’re crazy. I am,” said Gabriella, a tourist from Ecuador.

“It was like a freezer. (But still, you did it.) I did it because if you come to the beach, you get in the water,” said Javier Cruz, another tourist from Ecuador.

Over at Midland Beach on Staten Island, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten ran into Robert, who was trying to acclimate himself to the chilly water.

“Yea it’s a little bit (cold),” he said. “Testing it out though, it’s been pretty cold recently. I’m kind of waiting for the sun to come out and stay out. I feel like we’ve gotten glimpses here and there but it really hasn’t felt like summer yet, so I’m hoping to start the summer today.”

On Long Island, the early birds got the best spots in Long Beach where Jamie and her family set up their blankets, sand pails and shovels right in front of the gorgeous deep blue water.

“Sun and fun, that’s it, that’s what it’s about. I’m a teacher so I have summers off and this is it, this is the start of all the good time,” Jamie told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

Her little ones, 6-year-old Anya and 9-year-old Ethan, couldn’t wait to build sand castles and jump in the water.

At Jones Beach, there are some big changes this year at the 6.5-mile world famous white sand beach. It is currently getting a facelift as part of a $65 million project.

“It’s going to be a soup to nuts changeover for Jones Beach,” State Parks Regional Director Wayne Horsley said. “We are bringing a 20th Century park into the 21st Century, and everyone will still say this is Jones Beach, the place I’ve always loved.”

Related: 5 Best Ways To Celebrate Memorial Day In NYC

The historic Bethpage Air Show held the first of two spectacular shows at Jones Beach on Saturday.

To the delight of the crowd, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are back this year for the first time since 2009, CBS2’s Steve Langford reported.

“It’s just beautiful. It’s a whole other aspect of life,” said George Lutz, of Commack.

Little over a century after the Wright brothers led humankind into the skies, some may take flight for granted, but not after seeing some heavenly grandeur up close.

“I mean, it’s not something you see every day, what these planes are capable of,” said Erika Larson, of East Northport.

The show will be held again from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

On the Jersey shore, many were thrilled to finally get a chance to lay out in the warm weather.

“When I saw mid-70s and sunny, I said we have to go to the beach,” Matt Santangelo of East Hanover said.

Many are taking advantage of the long weekend and despite the ocean chill, many don’t mind going for a dip in the 58-degree water.

“We’re coming Sunday and Monday and we’re coming the whole weekend even if we can’t sleep here, we’d sleep in the ocean if we could,” Kelly Pascale of Basking Ridge said.

If you’re heading out to the beaches be aware that roads could be messy with major backups.

Traffic this year is expected to be at an all-time high. AAA says more than 37 million will hit the roads, making this Memorial Day the busiest in 10 years, thanks to lower gas prices and a better economy.


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