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Orchard Beach’s 75th welcomes improvements

Orchard Beach celebrated its 75th anniversary opening weekend with much fanfare about the replenished and refurbished beach.

After extensive renovations, the beach ceremonially reopened on Friday, May 27, sparkling with 268,000 cubic yards of new sand and a repaired south jetty that has been extended by 350 feet.

The upgraded beach was made possible by $13 million in funds from Washington, D.C., after the lobbying of Congressmen Jose Serrano and Joseph Crowley, as well as matched funding from the city

allocated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for summer leisure and recreation in the Bronx,” Serrano said. “The newly restored Orchard Beach is back to how it should be: beautiful, wide, and safe.”

Congressman Serrano, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Community Board 10 Parks committee chairwoman Virginia Gallagher and Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte all participated in the celebration.

Representing the Bronx business community was Lenny Caro, CEO and president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, who said that vendors at the beach should see even more visitors, leading to an increase in commerce.

Benepe said that when he first saw the beach with all of its new sand, the sparkle made it difficult to see the water from the boardwalk.

The Army Corp. of Engineers, who worked with the city on the project, brought in an enormous amount of sand. Benepe believes that the beach should not have the “drop-offs” in sand that made swimming at the beach before unpredictable.

Taking part in the ceremony was Bill “Sandman” Cichone, who created a sculpture celebrating 75 years of Orchard Beach, as well as the fifth grade class from P.S. 79, and members of the St. James, St. Mary’s, and Owen Dolen recreation centers’ senior citizens.

Ruben Diaz Jr. said that he recalls vividly going to Orchard Beach in the summer when he was a child. He welcomed everyone to the beach, whether they are from the Bronx or not.

The beach is a jewel in Pelham Bay Park, Benedetto stated.

“This is always a nice day and officially kicks off the summer season,” Benedetto said. “It doesn’t get better than Pelham Bay Park.”

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