Long Island Beach Life: From Tanning to Saving Lives




Felicia Abramowitz lounges in a lawn chair in the white grainy sand of Lido Beach’s Nickerson Beach soaking up the sun while reading The Girl on the Cliff by Rucinda Riley. An opened Chobani yogurt nestled alongside her, the 68-year-old is a shiny bronze from head-to-toe, and credits the sun’s glowing rays with not only her complexion, but her overall health and state of mind. “It is like a vitamin pill,” she says. “It cures whatever ails you.” Abramowitz describes herself as “semi-retired,” because she occasionally works as an assistant teacher at a Long Beach school teaching mostly Hebrew classes. But during the summer, she doesn’t spend a day away from Nickerson Beach, only a short walk from her Long Beach home. Abramowitz has been visiting this beach ever since she was a little girl; her grandparents are from the area. She occasionally sees some pretty unusual things while catching some rays, she says, such as schools of dolphins and animal-rescue groups working to help injured birds. The sunbather, one of countless flocking to LI’s South Shore beaches each season, gestures to a nearby jetty, where lifeguards painted a boulder a vibrant purple plum. “It makes the beach recognizable,” she laughs.



With his red, white and blue kite dancing among the clouds above him, Paul Gee is a summer weekend fixture at Jones Beach, performing his mastery just a few feet from the crashing turquoise waves. “I fly all year round,” the 49-year-old says. “I used to be on a four-person kite team. We were ranked number three in the nation. We were stunt kite fliers; we got to travel all over the East Coast, and even were invited to France and a lot of other great places.” Gee hails from Freeport, his beaming tan testament to the countless hours he’s spent in the merciless sun playing puppet-master to his soaring passion. Stunt kite competitions are held up and down the country’s coast, he says. “They mostly feature individual flyers, precision flyers, or even flyers that do ballet; everything is choreographed and timed to the music. It’s all about timing,” Gee smiles, his colorful kite darting and tumbling against the gray sky. “There is a science to it,” he laughs. “A lot of people come up to me and ask, ‘How do you do that?’ So I try and give them quick little lessons.”



Sun-kissed Stephen Fregosi of Massapequa sits atop his white lifeguard stand perched in the sand of Tobay Beach and watches over dozens of beachgoers with an eagle’s eye. Leaning forward, the 25-year-old’s gaze is fixated on several people indulging in a refreshing swim just off the shoreline. “It’s just a great feeling when people come up to you and say, ‘Thank you,’” he says passionately. “Just last Saturday we had an incident where two 12-year-old girls were caught up in a riptide. Luckily, everyone was okay.” Fregosi, who is also an attorney and an avid surfer, has been a lifeguard for nearly 10 years. Although it started off as just summer job for him, he soon fell in love with it. “Making rescues, helping people stay safe and being outside all day—there is absolutely nothing like it.”



“All things nature is my passion,” says soft-spoken David Kelly, while peacefully rummaging through the warm sand cascading off the side of a hidden dune along the Jones Beach boardwalk. The 50-year-old made the trip from the city and is awaiting his friends’ arrival. “I took the right train; they took the wrong one,” he jokes. Originally from Chicago, Kelly moved to New York for a teaching job, he says, picking up two tiny shells and placing them on the boardwalk’s scalding handrail for further examination (he’s been scouring for seashells to show his students in class). “They serve as memories, or inspiration, then they eventually become a part of the education,” he muses, tossing one of them back onto the sand. It’s his first trip to Jones Beach, and Kelly is awestruck at its beauty. “I’ve been to Long Beach and to Montauk so far. I’m happy with how clean and peaceful it is here. I can hear the birds,” he says, gazing up to the bright blue sky. “It is beautiful.”