The grassy bank is cluttered with tattooed, tanned and toned bodies. Footballs fly through the air and Frisbees whiz by too close for comfort. Striped beach towels lay abandoned beside People magazines and spilled cans of Mountain Dew.
At about 500 feet -- think of a Jim Thome home run -- Long Lake boasts the longest, sandiest swimming beach in New Brighton, an area dotted with beachless lakes and summer-empty schools.
The lake is prized for its setting -- nestled inside Long Lake Regional Park, which has more than 200 acres of trails, wildflowers and cattail marshes -- and its residential personality. Tightly sandwiched houses, flanked by boat lifts, ring much of its perimeter.
But the hundreds of teenagers who fill the parking lot with bumper-stickered cars make the daily trek to the beach for one thing only: to see and be seen.
"Everybody comes here," said Cassie Hupp, 15, of Fridley. "We always see a lot of people we know."
Below the lifeguard's tower, two girls in neon bikinis coyly pose for pictures that will no doubt end up in a Facebook album aptly titled "Living it up at Long Lake."
Across the sand, two guys perch on a picnic table, discussing their evening plans: "Do you think your mom will let you go to a club downtown? It's 18 and up."
It's the beach version of a middle-school dance, where guys and girls draw a line in the sand to mark their separate territories.
As the tanned skin starts to redden and day turns to dusk, the teenagers slowly pack their beach bags, shake the sand off their towels and drive off.
The coconut smell of suntan lotion is replaced by the sweet, smoky smell of barbecue as lake residents return home from work and fire up their grills. Then they slide their boats into the water for a cruise. For now, the lake is theirs again.
We apologize for the inconvenience.