Coney Island marks city beach openings

People ride the Brooklyn Cyclone during the ceremonial

People ride the Brooklyn Cyclone during the ceremonial opening of the Coney Island rollercoaster. (March 24, 2013)
 (Credit: Anthony Lanzilote)

As wind and rain pelted Brooklyn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city's public beaches open Saturday.

The mayor joined local and federal officials and residents Friday in front of the historic B&B carousel at Coney Island's newly built Steeplechase Plaza to celebrate the restoration of city waterfronts after superstorm Sandy.

"We promised that no matter what, every one of the city's beaches would be open by Memorial Day and today I'm very excited to make it official," Bloomberg said.

The mayor said it cost the city $270 million to restore the beaches and that he is working on a reimbursement deal with the federal government. Much of the work was done across Coney Island, Brighton Beach and the Rockaways. The total cleanup took more than 500,000 hours.

The Department of Sanitation removed 430,000 tons of debris, according to Commissioner John J. Doherty. Bloomberg said that's enough trash to fill 12 Olympic swimming pools.

The parks department hired more than 1,000 people to replant trees and help with the cleanup. The Army Corps of Engineers will bring in thousands of tons of sand over the summer to help to protect the shoreline.

"I think they did a pretty good job, cleaning up as fast as they did," Lisa Serrano said. The Sea Gate resident watched her daughter ride the carousel as she stood near a grinning borough President Marty Markowitz. After Sandy, Serrano's house was under 9 feet of water.

Carol McCullough, the original owner of the B&B carousel and a longtime Coney Island amusement park maven, said she was glad the city bought the ride and gave it a proper home.

"I think they've done a fantastic job. It was a huge amount of work. But the show must go on."

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