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drenchedwith work

Drenched in work this summer! See you in September, if not sooner.

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March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Fantasy Shore Amusement Park

This Spinning Tea Cup is one of four children’s rides at new Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Staten Island. Photo by NY Carousel

Staten Island’s east shore, where Ferris wheels, coasters and carousels were awhirl in the early 20th century, has its first seaside park since South Beach’s Beachland Amusements closed after 65 years. Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Midland Beach opened last weekend for “preview days,” which continue on Thursday and Friday from 11am till 6pm. The grand opening and ribbon cutting is scheduled for June 28th.

The new kiddie park opened with four rides: Tea Cups, Train, Frog Hopper and a mini-roller coaster christened the Verrazano Viper. Fantasy Shore is run by NY Carousel Entertainment, which answered the Parks Department’s RFP (Request for Proposals) to develop and operate a children’s amusement park for a 12-year term. The park is on Father Capodanno Blvd at Seaview Avenue, adjacent to Midland Beach Fishing Pier.

Queens Motor Speedway

Queens Motor Speedway Ride at Fantasy Forest Amusement Park.
Flushing Meadows, Queens. Photo by NY Carousel

The company also operates two historic Queens carousels in City parks in Flushing Meadows and Forest Park. Last year, NY Carousel added a mini-amusement park called Fantasy Forest at Flushing Meadows, including Queens’ only roller coaster, a family ride called the Corona Cobra similar to the one in Midland Beach. On Memorial Day weekend, the Queens park debuted a new ride called the Queens Motor Speedway inspired by the Kiddie Whip ride manufactured by the Mangels Company in Coney Island.

“These parks are designed to cater to local families and we add rides and attractions over time that we feel best suit our park’s location,” Adam Sandy of NY Carousel told ATZ. “I can say that I think Fantasy Shore will look great opening day, improve throughout the season, and grow in the years to come.”

Midland Beach, just south of South Beach, once had hotels, beer gardens, bathing pavilions, theaters, carousels, Ferris wheels and other amusements. Vintage postcards in the New York Public Library show a variety of entertainments, including trapeze performances, boxing exhibitions and a Whip ride.

The Whip at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Everybody Rides the The Whip at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

Related posts on ATZ…

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

March 5, 2014: RFP for Operator of Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

January 20, 2014: Amusement Park Operators Eye Return to Staten Island Beachfront

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 20, 2009. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

The 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade gets rolling on Saturday at 1:00pm. The free event is one of the most hugely crowded days of the year in Coney Island. If you’re not marching, where are the best places to spectate and take photos? Anywhere along Surf Avenue from the parade’s starting point at West 21st Street to West 10th Street, where it turns to go onto the Boardwalk. You’ll miss the antique cars and motorized floats if you opt for the backdrop of the Cyclone on West 10th and the seaside atmosphere of the boardwalk. This year, the parade disbands at Steeplechase Plaza, where the Parachute Jump is located on the boardwalk at West 17th Street.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 19, 2010. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

ATZ asked photographer Barry Yanowitz, who grew up in Coney Island and whose splendid photos from past parades are featured in this post, to share his strategy for Saturday. “On the parade route itself, my favorite spot is across from Nathan’s – that makes a great backdrop. The only problem is that this spot gets very crowded very fast so you have to stake out a spot early.” Yes, it bears repeating. GET THERE EARLY. Latecomers will not be able to navigate due to the crowds and crossing Surf Avenue while parade is in progress is iffy due to NYPD barricades.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Spectators stand on scaffolding on north side of Surf Ave. at Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 23, 2012. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

“My favorite part of shooting the Mermaid Parade is actually not on the parade route itself,” says Barry. “It’s all the activity around it before and after! I love all the behind the scenes moments of participants getting ready and casually hanging out in Coney Island in their costumes.”

The best place to take photos before the parade is the staging area on West 21st Street from 10:30am till 12:30pm. “You do not have to make reservations to take pictures on West 21st Street. You just have to pay $20 in advance or day of, CASH ONLY,” according to Coney Island USA’s handy set of Mermaid Parade FAQs. “If you are Working Press with an NYPD Press Pass, you can enter the West 21st Street staging area for free.”

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade Staging Area, June 18, 2011. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

One of ATZ’s fave viewing spots is from the judges’ reviewing stand, where paraders stop to do choreographed dance numbers for “Mayor” Dick Zigun, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid and bribe the judges with goodies. You can buy a judgeship –yes, only in Coney!– for the price of a $150 “Big Spender” membership with non-profit Coney Island USA, which produces the parade. The judgeship entitles you to VIP seating on the canopied reviewing stand (Surf Avenue, between West 19th and 20th Streets), a Mermaid Parade Judge T-Shirt, and bribes.

“This year, instead of one, there will be three official stopping points for marchers to do their routines,” says Meryl Vladimer of Coney Island USA. The performance stops are the judges reviewing stand at 20th Street, in front of Nathan’s Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, and in front of Coney Island USA at Surf and West 12th Street.

After the parade, everywhere is a good spot, as mermaids and pirates cavort on the beach and boardwalk, have a drink at Ruby’s Bar, and go for a spin on the rides. If you can’t make it to Coney on Saturday afternoon, there’s the Mermaid Parade Ball from 6pm till midnight at MCU Park. General admission is $35, VIP for $100 available online only.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 23, 2012. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

Related posts on ATZ…

June 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra Opening the Ocean

June 16, 2011: Last Chance to See Mermaid Parade Before It Turns 30!

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Thunderbolt Luna Park

Grand Opening of Thunderbolt Roller Coaster, Luna Park Coney Island, June 14, 2014. Photo via Luna Park NYC

Summer officially begins on Saturday, June 21st, with the solstice and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. This past Saturday offered a taste of summer: the long-awaited debut of Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, Wonder Wheel Park’s Pet Costume Contest on the Boardwalk, and the Brooklyn Cyclones season opener followed by the first fireworks of the season. The Cyclones stadium is spectacularly situated with the landmark Parachute Jump on one side and the new Thunderbolt on the other.

Brooklyn Ccyclones

Brooklyn Cyclones Season Opener at MCU Park, Coney Island. June 14, 2014. Photo via Brooklyn Cyclones Facebook

ATZ wrote about the Thunderbolt when it broke ground (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” March 10, 2014) and as it took shape (“New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island,” May 19, 2014). Yet it’s still an astonishment to come upon its steel loops and dips from Surf Avenue. The coaster has the allure of an abstract sculpture and occupies part of a long vacant block where the Drop the Dip, Thunderbolt, and Wild Mouse coasters once thrilled and the Magic Carpet Fun House and Donkey Ball Game amused the millions.

On Friday, a New York Times reporter’s 9-year-old daughter starred in the best-ever vid of a coaster’s test run. Chai Latte, a 3-year-old chihuahua from Queens won 1st prize in Saturday’s Pet Costume Contest at Deno’s. And the Cyclones opened their season with an 8-2 victory over the Staten Island Yankees in front of an above-capacity crowd of 8,175.

Pet Costume Contest

Chai Latte, 1st Prize Winner of Pet Costume Contest at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. June 14, 2014. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Facebook

Related posts on ATZ…

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays, Six Saturdays, and More

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats banner painted by Marie Roberts

Look for the Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project on Pet Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, June 14, on the Boardwalk under this beautiful banner painted by Marie Roberts. Stop by their tent on the Boardwalk across from the Wonder Wheel to learn how this new group of volunteers is helping the feral and stray cat population of Coney Island.

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project

The T of TNR: Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project first rescue trapping. June 8, 2014 Photo © Tricia Vita

The Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project is just winding up a very successful first week of TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) rescue trapping. Beginning last Sunday, 28 cats were trapped, with 20 sent to the ASPCA’s Glendale facility for spaying and neutering.

“Thank you to everyone who made this possible,” said Josie Marrero, founder of the Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project. “Drivers, trappers, brain stormers, those very special ladies who helped get the clinic appointment, Wheels of Hope Guides. The cats need us all working together so they can have a chance at a better life! The work is just beginning. We have 15 clinic spots for July. Hopefully, that number will also go up to 24.”

Coney island Boardwalk Cats

This pregnant cat will be fostered and get veterinary care while she has her kittens. June 8, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The majority of the cats have now been returned (the R in TNR) to their Boardwalk colonies after a few days of being cared for by CIBC volunteers in donated recovery space in Borough Park. The building, which is a garage, is in the process of being sold and a new recovery space is needed after July for the group to be able to continue their work.

A few cats are being kept for veterinary care for medical conditions ranging from an eye infection to polyps.

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats recovery space where the cats are cared for by volunteers for a few days before and after spay/neutering. The building is being sold and a new space is needed after July. June 10, 2014. Photo by Josie Marrero/Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella

The other eight cats of the 28 include kittens and a pregnant cat who will be fostered. The kittens will be socialized and put up for adoption.

Volunteers, cat food, supplies, donations for vet care of sick cats, and recovery space for future rescue trappings are needed.

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project

This kitten requiring veterinary care for an eye infection will be fostered. June 8, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

CIBC is a program of Gravesend based non-profit Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella. Donations for Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project may be made via Paypal on their page. You may get updates by following their Facebook page and twitter feed. If you’d like to volunteer, send a message via Facebook or e-mail ConeyIslandBoardwalkCats[AT]gmail[dot[com].

ASPCA Wheels of Hope

ASPCA’s Wheels of Hope picking up cats at Coney Island Boardwalk Cats recovery space for transport to Spay/neuter clinic. June 10, 2014. Photo by Josie Marrero/Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella

Related Posts on ATZ…

January 27, 2014: AC Boardwalk, Disneyland Have Model Programs for Feral Cats–Why Not Coney Island?

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

Purge Breakout Experience

Purge Breakout Experience in Coney Island, June 12, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

One of Thor’s vacant lots in Coney Island is actually getting an entertainment attraction if only for a three day run. “Purge Breakout: An Immersive Escape Experience” is opening on Friday the 13th and staying through Sunday. Traveling through the U.S. this summer, the escape game/haunted house offers fans of the film franchise “The Purge” an opportunity to step inside the world created by Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions. The trailer trucks housing the attraction pulled onto the lot behind Nathan’s yesterday and are setting up.

On the plus side, the attraction will bring people to Coney Island who purchased the $20 timed tickets in advance and are likely to spend money on food, drinks and rides afterwards. If you’re just finding out about it, the tickets are already sold out!

Can we do this again next month for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Related posts on ATZ…

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays, Six Saturdays, and More

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

Lobster roll Paul's Daughter

Lobster rolls are new on the menu at Paul’s Daughter. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Lobster roll aficionados are advised to run right over to Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island to try the newest addition to their menu — and currently available weekends only– delectable chunks of Maine lobster packed into a toasted bun. ATZ tasted one of the Boardwalk eatery’s much-anticipated lobster rolls on Saturday, having been given a heads up by store owner Tina Georgoulakos. Tina and her family have been working on the recipe for months. The delicate sauce has a secret ingredient that enhances the naturally sweet and succulent taste of the lobster. If the store’s beloved Mama Burger figure doesn’t get her lost burger back, maybe she could hold a lobster roll instead?

Paul's Daughter

Bartender and counterman at the lobster bar at Paul’s Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Tina’s father Paul Georgoulakos aka “The Chief” co-founded the restaurant formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s in 1962 and still supervises its clam bar. The renovated building, which was originally one of hot dog inventor Charles Feltman‘s restaurants, remains a masterpiece of vernacular signage. Among our favorites signs are the counterman’s cry “Hey! Get It Get It!” and the dapper Mr. Shrimp.

While Papa Burger, an A & W Root Beer figure from the 1960s, still anchors the Luna Park side of the building’s rooftop, Mama Burger remains flat on her back since Superstorm Sandy. The eight-foot-tall fiberglass figure got knocked over — at first she was thought to be missing– and her hamburger and Brooklyn Brewery mug blew away.

Paul Georgoulakos Mama Burger

Behind the Bar at Paul’s Daughter: Poster of Paul in His Store in 1954 and Mama Burger T-Shirt by Brooklyn Brewery. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The Brewery has come up with a T-shirt to pay tribute to Mama Burger and raise funds toward her restoration. “They have a real love for Mama Burger,” says Tina, who recalls how one day her father took a Brooklyn Brewery sign and stuck it on the figure’s beer mug. “I have to find people who can restore her.” Back in 2011, when Paul’s Daughter lost their lease –the store has since signed an 8-year deal to stay put–ATZ wrote about Mama and Papa Burger, which have been part of Coney’s skyline since the 1970s and are considered rare examples of roadside Americana.

What else is new this season at Paul’s Daughter? In the next couple of weeks, LEDs will outline the top part of the building, says Tina. “We’re getting blue LEDs that look like neon.”

Paul's Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk

Paul’s Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

April 12, 2013: Photo of the Day: Clams on the Half Shell in Coney Island

October 31, 2012: Missing in Storm: Have You Seen Coney’s Mama Burger?

July 17, 2012: 50 Years on Coney Island Boardwalk for Paul & His Daughter

May 22, 2012: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!

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