NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – To keep it cool on hot holiday weekends, our area beaches are usually where people go.

Thousands are expected to flock to the water this July 4th weekend.

That started to happen in Coney Island Friday morning.

The sun was out, and for the first weekend this summer, people are not just out at beaches, but in the water. Many CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis spoke with are happy to be there so they continue Fourth of July weekend traditions, even if it is a bit altered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether it’s taking a stroll on the boardwalk, or hitting the beach, July 4th weekend kicked off on Coney Island.

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“Probably go in the water, play some games and eat,” said 12-year-old Isiajah Nathaniel. “It’s nice. We’re keeping social distancing and having a great time.”

“We love Coney Island, we love Nathan’s, we love Ruby’s,” Cynthia Bland, of Crown Heights, said. “The whole thrill of it all, we love it.”

“It’s awesome, it’s what I’ve been waiting for. It’s been a while since I could do this,” beach-goer Sohail Ahmedshaker said.

Fun is encouraged, and following the rules is a must, the city says.

“It’s good, but it’s weird. It’s nice to be out after being quarantined for so long, but I feel like I’m still a little suspicious of people around. Are they wearing their masks, keeping six feet?” Jolie Greenstone, of Brooklyn, said.

There are signs out to remind beach-goers to “keep this far apart,” and city staff handed out masks.

Many are social distancing, and just glad to be social, again.

“Pretty unbelievable. It’s so fresh to feel the air and not stay at home,” said Coney Island resident Mila Khudyakova.

“It feels good. You feel alive again. People trying to enjoy themselves, make the best of it,” said Lucy Martir of Bed-Stuy.

Lucy got to Coney Island at 7 a.m., before work, and plans to be back on the 4th, even though the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest won’t be.

“They don’t want to say where it is at this year,” Martir said.

Normally drawing 25,000 people, this year it will be held at a secret, undisclosed location, still televised, with a high level of safety protocols.

“All of the eaters will be spaced out six feet and on either side will be [plastic sheets] to prevent any extra spray,” said event organizer George Shea.

The contestant got to weigh in this morning, including reigning champ Joey Chestnut.

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New Yorkers are sad to miss out on traditions with the rides closed and no fireworks show.

“I’ve never been, I’ve always heard it’s a really good show. Kinda sad it’s not gonna be happening. Maybe next year,” Duell Davis, of Bushwick, said.

“It’s just not the same. When I used to go to the gelato place, it was a line. It’s not that many people. People are still scared of this COVID,” Bland said.

The show must go on on the boardwalk for businesses, which the Alliance for Coney Island Executive Director Alexandra Silversmith says are taking a big hit.

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“Right now, we’re seeing 80% down in sales, for all of them across the board, more or less,” Silversmith said. “It’s a huge impact, to say the least, and it’s devastating. This is their livelihood.”

Even though rides are closed, she’s happy at least the beach is open for swimming, so people can enjoy some holiday traditions, and remember what it’s all about.

“It’s celebrating America and the United States,” Isajah said.

Lifeguards were on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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