Sandcastles in the Sand, and Other Beachy Musings

I’ve suddenly been struck by the urgent need to move somewhere sunny (read: sunny all year round). I know it’s summer, and I should be enjoying the warm weather here in New York, but there’s something about the freakish humidity and the lack of palm trees that just isn’t quite doing it for me. I want to be by a beach, preferably by an ocean, surrounded by people in convertibles, and lush foliage. That’s the dream! In the meantime, I’m making the most of the city summer, taking in some of the free events New York summers are famous for, and even venturing out to the closest thing we have to a beach in the five boroughs: Coney Island

I had been to Coney Island once before, and though it wasn’t quite how I’d imagined it, I was thrilled that there was a beach and boardwalk so (relatively) close by. The area has a strange vibe to it, not quite a quaint or laidback “beach town,” but with all the makings of one: there are families, there’s sand, there’s a shop that sells souvenir t-shirts and giant beach towels with mermen on them. But something is off. So when I ventured out that way for the annual Mermaid Parade, on June 19th, I had resolved to stake out a spot on the beach, and ignore the rest of it (I realize that seems counterintuitive, since the Mermaid Parade is one of the biggest events of the summer. But I wanted to laze!). For some reason, I hadn’t accounted for the thousands of people who would be there, or for the impossibility of crossing the boardwalk to get to the beach. I was stuck on the non-beach side, the side with the cheesy beach shop, and Nathan’s hot dogs, and the midway, and the sideshow, and the parade. And so I had my Coney Island fun: I spent longer than I should have considering a beach cover-up at the shop (I also had my eye on a commemorative sailor cap, but where does one wear such a thing…?); I had my obligatory hot dog and fries at Nathan’s – bonus celeb sighting: Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock! – while sitting at a table with a family visiting from the south who were “sick of the crowds;” I sauntered down the midway, marveling at how sketchy it all is, and how eerily reminiscent of the beginning of more than one horror movie; I spent some time checking out the sideshow gift shop (the actual sideshow, and the intriguing Coney Island museum were both closed for the day); and I spent as long as I could endure on the sidewalk amongst the crowds, straining to catch any glimpse of the infamous parade. All in all, it wasn’t the most fruitful day. I left without my sailor hat, without my merman towel, and without a suntan. But it was fun nevertheless, and I intend to go back on a non-parade day to soak up the sun, and get sand in every crevice.

On a related note, tomorrow, July 14th, happens to be the 24th Annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest! Open to people of all ages and all skill levels, the contest invites sand enthusiasts to gather on the beach, and display their prowess in the art of sandsculpting. So pull out your bucket and your shovel, head out to Belmar, NJ, and partake in one of the most innate of childhood skills: building things out of sand. In the likely event that it’s raining tomorrow, the contest is will be on Thursday, July 15th. So you’ll be able to build something more than just a moat.

***Bonus beachy video: This totally topical faux music video is from How I Met Your Mother, in which one of the characters, Robin, is a former Canadian teen idol who went by the name of Robin Sparkles. The video features cameos by none other than Alan Thicke; real former teen idol (and former girlfriend of NKOTB member Jonathan Knight) Tiffany; Dawson Leery; and my motherland. Oh, and you know, sand. Plus, it’s just kind of a catchy song. Enjoy!

*****

Emily Mousseau, GS’10

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