Our long local nightmare is finally over. Miami-Dade reopened the beaches on Wednesday, June 1 after 84 days of closure. From 7 am to 8 pm, seven days a week, people of all color, creed, and political persuasion can enjoy our coast. The sands from Sunny Isles to South Beach to Key Biscayne to Matheson Hammock are now open for your enjoyment.
I had been fiending for this moment for months. Being underemployed I made sure to get in the ocean first chance I had on Wednesday. At 8 a.m. I saw the barricade on 8th street and Ocean was still blocking the pathway. I hopped over it and glimpsed paradise. There were a few joggers and walkers, a couple heads bobbing in the ocean, but our beach was pristine. Not a piece of litter anywhere. A lane of seaweed was the only impediment to get in the crystal clear water. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I didn’t remember our ocean being this beautiful. Getting out even my lips tasted less salty than the Atlantic usually left them.
At around 9 am, there were more people on South Beach, but still easy to keep six if not sixty feet of distance from any beachgoers. Leaving the beach was difficult. At each of the blocked entranceways were now standing two teenaged security guards directing you to go to one of the approved points of exit. One is at 10th street, another at 5th and a third at South Pointe Park. I wasn’t going to let a slight inconvenience ruin a day I had been looking forward to for so long, but a jogger wasn’t having it. She chastised them, “This is stupid. You realize if I was in a wheelchair and you blocked this entrance I would sue you.”
They’re funneling all beachgoers to just a few entrances so they can make sure everyone brought a mask. But it seems like over the weekend, that might cause traffic leaving people in much closer proximity than they otherwise would be. But this is no time to worry about the logistics of social distancing.
The beach is open. Enjoy it. Leave it as it is, take out what you brought in, and revel in paradise.
Cherish our beaches. Because if these last few months taught us anything, public land can be taken away from us at any time.