The beach was not crowded, but with the water temperature at around 70 degrees, many took a dip, while others stayed ashore reading books and enjoying the breeze.
“We don’t care if it rains,” said Lauri O’Connor, 53, who works for CUNY. O’Connor, who lives in Fresh Meadows, came to the beach with a group of friends to celebrate what she called a “kite flying day.”
She said the group had been coming to the beach to fly kites for about 15 years. “If the wind picks up, we're going to have five to six kites up in the air.”
Terri Nugent, 58, who lives near to the beach, said she was planning to spend the entire day at the seaside.
“I think that the sun is just dying to come out of these clouds,” said Nugent, who works for the Department of Education. “I have my newspaper, my coffee and bagel, my MP3 player and I’m all set.”
Most beach-goers said that spending time near the water, even though the weather was not perfect, was better than staying at home. “We don’t want to stay inside in the air-conditioning all day,” said Brian Heinz, 44, a stay at home dad, who was playing with his 5 month-old son, Amadeus. He said he comes to Rockaway Beach with his family from Ridgewood a couple of times a week. “It takes us about half an hour. It’s always worth the trip.”
Some tourists visiting New York also made it to the beach on Labor Day. "This is the best beach in New York," said Iwona Nowak, 35, from Poland, who is visiting her friend in Ridgewood. "We went to Coney Island some time ago, but it was too crowded."
Local businesses said that despite gloomy skies they were able to attract some customers Monday. Caracas Arepa Bar at Rockaway Boardwalk and Beach 106th Street was selling quite a few arepas, a flatbread sandwiches served with pork, beef or black beans, and frozen sangrias. "Weather doesn’t help but a lot of people are local, they know us and they love to come," said Maribel Araujo, the owner.