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Wahlburgers

Slated to open this summer, Wahlburgers will have a rooftop overlooking Thor’s Stillwell lots. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last week, Wahlburgers released details of the 6,800 square foot franchise restaurant currently under construction in Coney Island and slated to open this summer. Eater dubbed it “a massive indoor/outdoor extravaganza.” Rooftop patio dining with a retractable glass roof sounds spectacular but it’s a stretch to say Wahlburgers “will overlook Coney Island’s famous boardwalk and beach” as the pr copy claims.

Located in Thor Equities’ retail building on Stillwell Avenue across from Nathan’s, the celebrity burger palace overlooks the Bowery and Thor CEO Joe Sitt’s long-vacant lots. That’s why we’re betting the rumors that began in November and continued this year about attractions coming to those lots for the summer are indeed true.

Wahlburgers

Architectural Rendering of Wahlburgers in Coney Island

Sources have told ATZ that Thor’s lots will host food and merch in 20 trailers. Rides and other attractions are now said to be part of the mix. Ironically there was an entire amusement park including bumper boats and a miniature golf course there before Joe Sitt bought the property in 2006 and promptly turned it into “Thor Equities Corridors of Blight.” The last time a carnival was here was 2012. The lots remained vacant in 2014 as well as in 2010 and 2013, when the City issued a stop-work order on a permit for “temporary parking for the amusement district.”

MegaWhirl

Prototype MegaWhirl ride, abandoned after the 2012 season and damaged by Hurricane Sandy, is finally being demolished. April 25, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion

While the DOB has yet to issue permits for a “temporary fair,” the property is being prepped in earnest. Last week, the MegaWhirl ride, abandoned after it debuted here in 2012 and was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, was being demolished and tossed in a dumpster. Underground electric utilities were installed last month and the Bowery was cleared of concession trailers adjacent to the lot.

ATZ’s first post back in December about the celebrity burger franchise opening in Coney Island and subsequent updates continue to be as popular as posts about Friday night fireworks! That makes us think it’s going to be a magnet for some of Mark Wahlberg’s 15+ million Facebook fans. The Wahlburgers restaurants are the backdrop for the A&E TV reality series about Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg’s adventures in the burger business. This summer’s opening of the Coney Island location is being scripted into the show. The original opening date of early May has been pushed back to June.

Wahlburgers

Signage on Wahlburgers currently under construction in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

February 13, 2015: Coney Island 2015: IHOP Franchisee Signs Lease for 5,400-Square-Foot Surf Ave Store

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

December 5, 2014: Wahlburgers Burger Franchise to Open in Coney Island

Dunk Tank Clowns

Still from ‘Dunk Tank Clowns,’ a documentary by Daniel McGuire

Daniel McGuire’s documentary short ‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ premieres this weekend at Boston’s Independent Film Festival. “I’m too old for this. I’m glad you came here,” says seasoned clown Kenny Dickman in the trailer. “I’m on my first annual retirement tour. We’re politically incorrect.”

So true. Have you noticed the bozos have disappeared from Coney Island as well as New York City’s street fairs? In 2011, Drown the Clown, which we last photographed in 2009, was banished from Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro for being “too raucous” in the increasingly gentrified neighborhood. In Coney Island, the last photos we took were before the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009, which made way for restaurants, retail and condominium development.

Insulting people for a living isn’t as easy as it looks, according to the film’s synopsis. The documentary offers an inside look at the profession by longtime carnival bozos Terry Leonard and Tom Miller, who are seen working fairs in Massachusetts, and Dickman, whose territory is Pennyslvania and was with S & S Amusements the season that we toured with the show. Carnival days!

‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ screens at the Somerville Theatre on Saturday at 10:00pm and Monday at 7:15pm.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

September 17, 2014: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

October 6, 2013: Video of the Day: The Down Home Daredevils

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Go up it’s Great. Easter Sunday at the Wonder Wheel. April 5, 2015. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

“Go up, it’s Great!” is the joyful slogan of the Wonder Wheel painted on its vintage ticket booths. On the evening of May 8th, you could say “Go up, it’s Poetry!” Deno’s Wonder Wheel will be open special hours – 7pm-10pm – for Poem-a-Rama, a special event featuring an array of poets reciting poetry to guests as they go up in the cars, plus readings on the ground and book-inspired music by Soozie Hwang & the Relastics.

The first-ever literary soiree in the landmark ride’s 95-year history is a benefit for Parachute Literary Arts’ poetry workshops and community poetry libraries in Coney Island. Advance tickets are $20 and include general admission to the event and a ride with a poet on the Wonder Wheel.

“Coney Island has been a source of inspiration for centuries for artists and poets including Whitman and E.E. Cummings and now contemporary poets,” says Parachute’s founder and artistic director Amanda Deutch. “At the same time I am interested in site specific work.” Past events produced by Parachute have featured poets reading in front of the New York Aquarium’s jellyfish tanks and over the mic at the Eldorado Bumper car ticketbooth on Surf Avenue.

Poets reading on the ground at Poem-a-Rama include Patricia Spears Jones, Lynn Melnick and teen poets from Parachute Literary Arts’ writing workshops. Poets with whom you can ride the Wheel are Parachute Festival alum Matthea Harvey and Edwin Torres, as well as Penny Arcade, Amber Atiya, Paul Blackburn, Kurt Boone, Michael Broder, Brenda Coultas, Ian Dreiblatt, Jen Fitzgerald, Tyehimba Jess, Brenda Iijima, Lucy Ives, Amy King, Wanda Phipps and “a wandering Walt Whitman.”

Deutch’s hope for Poem-a-Rama is for poets and passengers to enjoy a truly unique experience “because of all of it–the ride, the ocean breeze, the intimate nature of such a small reading– the poetry will sink in and reverberate for days to come.”

Advance tickets for Poem-a-Rama are available online for $20 via Parachute Literary Arts. Tickets will be $25 online on May 8th, the day of the event, and at the door. Entrance to the event will be at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park‘s West 12th Street gate at 3059 West 12th between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk.

Related posts on ATZ…

October 13, 2013: Photo of the Day: Swinging on the Wonder Wheel

September 29, 2011: Coney Island Poem from the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project

September 7, 2011: Photography: Floating Above the Coney Island Boardwalk

September 27, 2009: Coney Island 1969 by Edwin Torres: Fave Poem from Parachute Festival

Coney Island air show

During the 1980s and 90s, Astroland sponsored air shows featuring Air Force, Navy and Army flyers and parachute teams. The last air show in Coney Island was in 2000.

City officials have just signed off on an air show that will bring teams of flyers and parachutists to Coney Island this summer, according to a report by Jeanine Ramirez of NY1. The show will cost more than $500,000, but sponsors have agreed to cover all expenses. The event is scheduled for August 29 and 30.

“So much fun! I’m so happy they’re bringing it back! So exciting!” Tina Georgoulakos of Paul’s Daughter told ATZ. Among the iconic photos on display in her boardwalk eatery is one of a parachutist landing on the beach in front of her family’s business, then called Gregory & Paul’s. Friends who’ve attended Coney Island’s famed air shows of the past –the last one was in 2000– say the jumpers landed with unerring precision on targets set out on the beach.

New York City Air Show

The New York City Air Show in Coney Island has been on the Coney Rumor Mill’s radar since last summer and on fan websites since early this year. Fence Check says the venue is MCU Park and lists the following participants: Air Boss & Consulting International, B-25 Panchito, Horsemen Flight Team, USAF F-22A Raptor Demo, USAF Heritage Flight, USMC AV-8 Harrier Demo, USN F/A-18 Hornet East Demo – VFA-106, USN Leap Frogs, and Mike Wiskus & the Lucas Oil Pitts. The new air show has a logo, a website under construction and a Facebook page. And they are already planning ahead for next year with “the New York City Air Show in Coney Island” on the Blue Angels schedule for August 20-21, 2016.

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Astroland sponsored not only the USAF Thunderbirds but also the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute team as well as the Navy’s Blue Angels in 2000. The walls of Astroland’s office were emblazoned with dramatic news photos of these annual events. The flamboyant Coney Island press agent Milton Berger was the “air show chairman” and a master at estimating attendance. “For the first day of a three-day air show, he reported a crowd of only 750,000, but only to leave room for much bigger crowds that he would report for the next two days,” his obit says.

US Navy Leap Frogs

The U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team, the Leap Frogs, will be part of the New York City Air Show. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Torrey W. Lee

How many people are projected to attend this year’s air show? In 2010, a Coney Island Air Show featuring the Thunderbirds was planned but could not get all of the necessary permits–a complicated situation by all accounts– and was cancelled. The director of that show told ATZ that “a conservative estimate would be 500,000 per day.” The air show will also be visible for blocks beyond the amusement district. According to the USAF Thunderbirds fact sheet, the largest crowd in USAF Thunderbirds history –2.25 million– was on July 4, 1987 at their Coney Island air show.

Fourth of July air shows and fireworks have been a Coney tradition since the 1940s. In 1957, New York City’s delegation to the House of Representatives lobbied the Secretary of Defense for a national air show in Coney Island that would demonstrate America’s “airpower for peace.” The May event grew into Armed Forces Week with the sponsorship of the US Air Force Recruiting Services, the City of New York and the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce.

USAF Thunderbirds at Coney Island

The largest crowd in USAF Thunderbirds history was on July 4, 1987 at Coney Island where 2.25 million people watched as the Thunderbirds performed. Photo via USAF Thunderbirds

Related posts on ATZ…

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

January 31, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Wahlburgers Signage Goes Up at Thor’s Retail Building

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

Greetings from Coney Island

Greetings from Coney Island mural on LunaTics Ice Cream building, Surf Avenue near Stillwell. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The eye-popping “Greetings from Coney Island” mural on the side of LunaTics Ice Cream building that we wrote about last week as a work-in-progress is finished and already a magnet for tourists and cellphone cameras. Coney Island sign painter Tommy Holiday and former graffiti artist Victor Ving speedily completed the work in just a few days. On Saturday we stopped by to catch the artists’ signing ceremony.

Greetings from Coney Island

Greetings from Coney Island muralists Tommy Holiday and Victor Ving in front of the “N” and the “E,” featuring the Steeplechase Funny Face and Wonder Wheel Park’s Spook-A-Rama Cyclops. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Tommy’s Coney creds include painting the cars on the Cyclone roller coaster and signage for Coney Island USA and Wonder Wheel Park. Later this month, Victor and photographer Lisa Beggs are embarking on a year-long “Greetings Tour” of the U.S. to paint vintage postcard inspired murals. You can follow them at @GreetingsTour on twitter and Instagram. Besides the work in Coney Island, “Greetings from…” murals have already been painted in Chinatown, Red Hook in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Canton, Ohio, in collaboration with local artists.

Greetings from Coney Island

The letter “N” in Tommy Holiday and Victor Ving’s mural features the Cyclone roller coaster. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

“When I got the wall, I didn’t know what I was going to do, ” Tommy told ATZ. “I wanted it to be historical as well as current.” Each letter of the mural puts a Coney landmark or luminary in the spotlight and is a work of art unto itself. Our favorite is the “E,” an intricate mingling of the Wonder Wheel’s neon sign and the Cyclops from Spook-A-Rama. The Cyclone’s “N” and Luna Park’s “Y” offer a hat tip to the vanished Astroland. The “S” is the landmark Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk, which is currently under renovation. The design is a throwback to the days when it was vacant and tagged by graffiti artists and features the tags of old friends.

Greetings from Coney Island

The letter “S” in Tommy Holiday and Victor Ving’s mural features the landmark Childs building on the Boardwalk. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Other letters showcase the Boardwalk, Steeplechase Funny Face, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Parachute Jump, Nathan’s, and the wall’s owners, LunaTic Ice Cream. The artists also paid homage to a Coney Island artist whose public art has endured: Marie Roberts’ sideshow banners adorn Coney Island USA’s landmark building and one of them is the “D” in Coney Island.

Victor Ving @GreetingsTour

Victor Ving signing a corner of the mural, His @GreetingsTour starts on April 28. Photo © Tricia Vita

Let’s hope the mural inspires more property owners to donate wall space. The years since the Coney Island rezoning have not been kind to public art. When the Dreamland Artists Club’s murals and signage debuted in June 2004, Steve Powers told the Times: “A large percentage of them will be up forever.” More than a decade later, only a handful remain including Powers’ “Bump Your Ass Off” signs for the Eldorado and his staircase mural for the Coney Island Museum. Daze’s fish on West 12th Street and Os Gemeos’ mural on Stillwell are badly peeling.

Greetings from Coney Island

Tommy Holiday signing a corner of the mural. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

If you want to party with the new “Greetings from Coney Island” mural, the chain-link fenced lot adjacent to it is the former Shore Hotel site owned by Thor Equities and is for lease for $25,000 for the season.

LunaTics Ice Cream

The mural is on the side of LunaTics Ice Cream building at 1224 Surf Ave in Coney Island.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

August 8, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

June 8, 2012: Art of the Day: Steve Powers New Signs for Coney Island

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

Mr. Robot

Notices on Surf Avenue say that Mr. Robot is shooting on Surf Avenue in Coney Island on Tuesday. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

USA Network’s Mr. Robot, a hacker drama starring Christian Slater, which premieres on June 24, will be filming in Coney Island again on Tuesday. Casting notices say they’ll be shooting exteriors all day. Last October, scenes for the pilot were shot in Wonder Wheel Park.

In the thrilling new trailer for the show, you’ll catch a glimpse of Slater riding in one of the Wheel’s cars with Elliot (Rami Malek), a cybersecurity engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night. Slater’s Mr. Robot is the mysterious leader of an underground hacker group trying to recruit Elliot to destroy the firm he is paid to protect. “What if you could set in motion the single biggest incident of wealth redistribution in history?” Slater asks him as they whirl in the sky over Coney Island.

Last Month, Mr. Robot won the SXSW Audience Award. On April 26, the Tribeca Film Festival will have an advance screening of the pilot episode.

Related posts on ATZ…

March 6, 2014: Tribeca Film Fest to Premiere ‘Famous Nathan’ Doc by Grandson Lloyd Handwerker

September 17, 2013: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

Movember 15, 2012: Zipper: Coney Island Documentary Debuts at DOC NYC

Tommy Holiday Coney Island Mural

Work-in-progress: Tommy Holiday mural on side of LunaTics Ice Cream, Coney Island. April 15, 2015. Photo by Stan Fox

“A friend and I will be painting a huge Coney Island mural on the side of LunaTics Ice Cream shop on Surf Avenue,” wrote Coney sign painter Tommy Holiday in an email to ATZ. His previous work in Coney Island includes Coney Island USA, Wonder Wheel Park, and the cars of the Cyclone. Today, they are filling in the letters with designs featuring Steeplechase’s Funny Face, the Wonder Wheel, Luna Park’s gate and more. Many thanks to Stan Fox for his photos of the work-in-progress.

Coney Island Mural

Work-in-progress: mural on side of LunaTics Ice Cream, Coney Island. April 15, 2015. Photo by Stan Fox

Related posts on ATZ…

March 26, 2014: Art of the Day: ‘Mic Check’ by RAE in Coney Island

June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

May 3, 2011: Photo of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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