July 4, Coney Island, New York.
It’s a muggy 90 degrees near Rockaway beach when I finally made it to the front of Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue. I had just missed the annual hot dog eating contest ( defending champion Joey Chestnut won in overtime) and there was a huge wad purple chewing gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.
Looking around at the throngs of people, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff all going on at once in such a seemingly crammed space. Not that Coney Island is small, but the crowds on this July 4 Friday seem to engulf everything in its path. The rickety rides, the ticket booths, the boardwalk and even the beach itself are awash with New Yorkers, New Jerseyers and what appears to be their entire extended families. A bluish haze hangs over the crowd right down to the beach where thousands of umbrellas are clustered together, growing thicker in density as I walk towards to water. Continue reading