The Rockaway 2015 year in review


Poseidon's Parade, Anna Bow, Rockaway

The year got off to a promising start when Lonely Planet named Queens the top U.S. travel destination for 2015. While the guide heralded the ethnic diversity of the borough, it also cited the subway-accessible “Atlantic-kissed sands” of Rockaway. Residents and visitors were set to embrace “Hamptons without the fuss,” making the James Franco visit of 2014 seem a distant fever dream.

Here are some memorable highlights of the year 2015 in Rockaway:

Resilience was really tested through one of the most crushing winters in NYC history, although it didn’t keep surfers out of the ocean. Jamaica Bay froze over, and residents across the peninsula struggled to keep their plumbing from freezing as well.

 

Andrew Dima, of A-Team Paddleboarding, doesn't let some snow keep him out of the water

Andrew Dima, of A-Team Paddleboarding, doesn’t let some snow keep him out of the water

 

Good news came in February, however, when Mayor de Blasio announced the restoration of regular ferry service to Rockaway. The bad news is that it will not be running until 2017 (which just happens to be when de Blasio is up for re-election). Whatever good will the Mayor earned was shot when he showed up 30 minutes late for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March.

 

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The slog to summer went quickly. First came the stunning and confusing news that the co-owners of Rockaway Taco were splitting up. Chef Andrew Field was decamping to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, in a new venture that was brilliantly named Tacoway Beach. David Selig continued to dominate the Beach 96th Street food and culture scene with The Summer Shift and The Palms.

 

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There were a number of new year-round establishments that opened along Restaurant Row. Rockaway Roasters and Peruvian rotisserie Chicks to Go (which earned a favorable review from the New York Times) quickly established their niche in the community. The quirky burger joint Beach Sliders, however, was shuttered by the end of the summer.

 

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In early May, the owners of the Brooklyn Night Bazaar announced plans to relocate to Riis Park. The new venture, at the western end of the pavilion, proved to be a boon for both vendors and beachgoers in what had historically been a service-poor section of the beach. The restaurant remains open through the off-season.

 

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As we do every year, residents rejoiced when both Connolly’s and The Sugar Bowl reopen for the summer.

 

IMG_1456.JPGThe Sugar Bowl

 

For the first time since 2012, our Main Street was partially restored when a section of the new boardwalk was opened.

 

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Anna Bow, a new coffee shop, made its debut along Restaurant Row.

 

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The business of Rockaway, which is essentially summer, was running smoothly until July 19th. In the midst of a typical mid-summer heat wave, the peninsula was choked with a record number of beachgoers. An estimated 410,000 sunbathers flocked to Rockaway that day, causing traffic to back up for hours. IMG_0475

 

In early August, the new gastropub Community House opened in the old Irish Circle space. Residents welcomed the stunning decor as a step up for the local restaurant scene.

 

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And while James Franco never resurfaced in Fort Tilden, a local beachfront home was featured in the HBO production “Vinyl.”

As summer was winding down, a new tradition was born with the first Poseidon’s Parade. The colorful parade was held on the new stretch of boardwalk, and gave residents and visitors yet another opportunity to enjoy an off-season event in Rockaway.

 

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After a brief scare, the northeast was spared the wrath of Hurricane Joaquin in October.

The third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy came and went, without as much introspection as in years past. After several lost summers, the fire zone in Breezy Point is well on the way to being fully restored.

 

 

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Some outlandish predictions for 2016:

Mayor de Blasio enters and wins Rockaway’s first annual taco eating contest.

New Citibike docking stations are installed along Shore Front Parkway.

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump leads the Poseidon’s Parade as Grand Marshal, and promises to move the Cyclone roller coaster to Rockaway if elected. He is swept into office in a landslide.