NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As Memorial Day weekend kicked off, thousands played hooky at beaches across our area Friday.

It was a day to hang out with families and friends, and finally take a dip in the ocean. For those hoping to dive right in, the water temperature was about 57 degrees.

“It’s a great day. The weather is cooperating and we are anticipating a record day today here at Jones Beach,” New York State Parks spokesman George Gorman said.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the aroma of sausages wafted in the air, mingling with ice cream cones — a Jones Beach tradition for the Toppis of Wantagh.

“I can’t wait to eat it,” said the son.

“We consider this a mini-vacation,” his mother added.

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The Websters arrived from North Babylon Friday morning. They said the parking lots were already filling up.

People were trying to make the anxiety of rain, ice and cold a distant memory, according to the Reese’s from St. James.

“It has been a horrible winter, but you know, we’re living it up. Life is good,” one woman told McLogan.

“We have a great time, we spend all day here,” said another, who admitted she was playing hooky.

Two boys had plans for their time at beach.

“How big will the castle be?” McLogan asked.

“We don’t know yet. And after we dig it, we’re going to put water in it,” one boy told McLogan.

“And if other people put their feet in, they can think it’s a big river,” said another. 

Michael Larkin, 10, was also sculpting a sandcastle.

“I like trying to build the biggest out of anybody I see on the beach,” he said.

The air show begins Saturday, but there was plenty of practice in the sky Friday. Among the Snowbirds and Skytypers was the O’Neil’s brother-in-law.

“We got to watch him fly today. It was really, really special,” one woman said.

“It’s wonderful just to spend time with the family,” a man added.

Amateur photographers couldn’t get enough. The Lax family, of Meadowmere Park, took a selfie to remember.

“It’s a day to remember those who sacrificed everything they had so that we can live in the greatest country in the world,” said a man.

The beach makes a great backdrop for any hobby, McLogan reported. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.

More: Water Safety Tips For Swimming In The Ocean, Pool This Summer

“Happy Memorial Day, just enjoy the day,” said one soldier.

Later in New York City, CBS2’s Ali Bauman caught up with people enjoying the view from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

“To enjoy summer, finally, since we waited all winter – for six months – to get nice weather,” resident Dan Devino said.

“I actually just moved into the neighborhood today, so it’s better than sitting inside unpacking boxes,” said Baker Vitale.

Jet skis were in the harbor, athletes on the court and parents trying to take the perfect Instagram pictures of their little ones.

“I really got really tired of winter,” said 9-year-old Isabel Reynolds.

“We didn’t have anything until May,” resident Roberta Kahn said. “It was a long, long winter. This is great.”

“I just graduated from medical school, so I’m trying to chill out for now until residency starts,” said Malcom Winkle, of Queens.

Coney Island Beach officially opened for the season Friday. This summer, New Yorkers can get updates on weather and water conditions for all eight city beaches before heading out by texting “BEACH” or “PLAYA” to 877877.

“It’s a stay-cation when the weather’s like this,” one woman said.

If you are trying to get away before Tuesday, you’ll be in good company down the Jersey Shore. Kids at Point Pleasant Beach were not wasting one minute of sun, making sand castles and swimming – even if the water’s still a bit chilly.

“I know it’s cold, but I was just in there having the time of my life,” resident Vanuisha Valeus said.

Beach or boardwalk, city or shore – on a day like this, winter felt like a distant memory.

Click here to check this weekend’s forecast.