"American Beauty" is a new series that explores the roots of American identity – and the resilience and independence that can be found throughout the country.
Hard-core surfers get to the beach before dawn to hit the waves at Rockaway Beach in Queens. They aren't afraid to jump in during a blizzard, or squeeze into a bungalow for warmth after surfing. We visited the community of surfers to find out why they're so dedicated to catching a wave.
Rockaway Beach Surf Club, is one of the main hubs for the community, and is decorated with colorful murals, photographs and paraphernalia. In the back of the bar is an outdoor patio with tall, painted lockers where "transplant" surfers can store their surfboards and gear to use for early morning sessions. Owner Brandon D'Leo says seeing the boardwalk rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy was a huge step for revitalizing the Rockaways. "Before this winter, if you went out in January, you would see five or six people in the water," he says. "This past winter, you would see 90 people on a good day."