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Friday, February 19, 2010

Coney Island in February

My niece Shakina and nephew Joshua keep asking me if they can go to the beach as soon as the sun shines through the window in the morning. They are sure it’s a good day for the beach when the sun is shinning so brightly. Try explaining to a two and four year old that this is not beach weather. They just think I am being unreasonable. Luckily, they have great imaginations and set up their own beach party in the hall with blankets, crackers and their favorite dolls and stuffed animals. Their antics remind me of my own experience finding out that a beach day in February is not a good thing.

We were living in Cypress Hills in Brooklyn when my godmother who lived across from us came over with some great news. She had a car for the weekend and after she finished some errands we could go anywhere we wanted in the city. She told my godsister and I the choice was ours. After some discussion my god sister who was also my best friend confided in me that she really had her heart set on going to Coney Island. We rarely had the use of a car and without a car Coney Island was a long trip. So Coney Island it was!

Of course, when we told my godmother our decision I could tell she was not happy. I know she probably gave us a hundred reasons why Coney Island in February was not the best decision but we were not listening. Neither did we listen to weather report – cold air arriving from Alaska. Coney Island! Coney Island! we shouted. She tried to persuade us to change our mind but we were not budging. Coney Island! Coney Island!

So on a cold blistery day in February we headed out to Coney Island. By time we got there it was dark and over cast. To our surprise everything was closed and locked down. Coney Island was deserted. We asked my godmother to drive us around a couple times checking for any signs of life as we peered through the frosted windows. There were no bumper cars, carousel or cyclone.
Finally she had enough, parked the car and said everyone out. “You wanted to go to Coney Island so here we are.” She directed us to the boardwalk for a nice cold walk in February. It was eerie walking on the empty boardwalk with the wind whipping across the sand and the ocean. We huddled together as we walked wondering what went wrong with our plan. When she thought we had enough of our winter excursion she led us over to the one beacon of light in the dark, Nathans. The only place opened all year long.

As we enjoyed our franks and french fries in the car we had a good laugh and realized this was an experience we wouldn’t forget too soon.