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This week, British Pathé announced the release of more than 85,000 newsreels from its archives to the public via YouTube. Among the films dating from the early 20th century though the 1970s are several documenting Coney Island. “Let’s Go Coney! Island” (1932) was shot inside Steeplechase Park’s Pavilion of Fun and provides a glimpse of patrons riding the Hoopla, Human Pool Table and Panama Slide. At Luna Park, Victor Zacchini, “The Human Cannonball,” is seen being shot from a cannon across the park’s lagoon as part of the season’s outdoor show.

Other newsreels show riders on the Witching Waves (1919) and roller coasters (1932) and the residents of New York Aquarium eating a “Whale Of A Lunch” (1964).

While the British Pathé archive is available online via their own website, going public on YouTube allows viewers to comment, share and embed the historic videos.

“The archive contains unique footage from both World Wars, the Titanic, boxing legend Muhammed Ali and more,” said British Pathé and Mediakraft Networks in a press release. “On top of this startling content, the material also paints vivid pictures of almost forgotten lifestyles, peculiar technical inventions and everyday life that British Pathé presented in newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries from 1910 until 1976.”

In “Do You Reverse” (1928), couples slide down a water chute together into Steeplechase Pool. Camera trickery is used to show this in reverse. Divers are also seen jumping out of the water and back onto boards.

Dorothy de Mar wins the title of Miss Venus from hundreds of other bathing beauties at Steeplechase Park in “Is She Your Choice?” (1931).

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Taylors of Edinburgh Funfair

Taylors of Edinburgh Funfair at Kirkaldy Links Market, Europe’s Longest Street Fair

“For most of us it’s the start of the season,” says a showman in this 1983 video of Scotland’s Kirkcaldy Links Market, Europe’s largest street fair. This year’s fair opened on Wednesday and runs through April 21st. The nearly mile-long midway along the Esplanade in Kirkcaldy, Fife, has over 130 rides as well as sideshows, games and food stalls.

A trader’s market has been held annually on the Links of Abbotshall since 1304. Some of the showmen, estimated to number over 1,000, have played the fair for generations. If a spot opens up, the Showmen’s Guild of Scotland assigns the location.

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Coney Island signage

Coney Island signage in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park with Luna Park’s Electro Spin, Air Race and Cyclone in background. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusements officially open for the season in just one day–on Palm Sunday! Freebies abound at the People’s Playground for early birds who relish being among the first as well as for casual visitors all day long.

–The first 100 people on line at both the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel will get a free ride. Rides open after the 11am Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the 11:45am Egg Cream Christening at the Cyclone. For the rest of the day, a ride on the Cyclone, which usually costs $9, will be discounted to $6. At Deno’s, over 200 Coney Island kids from the local Salt and Sea Mission will be treated to free rides, toys and Easter bags. In addition to face-painters and stiltwalkers, Ray Balloons will be on hand to make free balloon animals for visitors and DJ Joe will spin tunes on the Boardwalk.

face-painters, balloon artists, a DJ, and stilt-walkers

–The Coney Island History Project‘s exhibition center, where historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films are on view, offers free admission from 1 till 6pm. Visitors are invited to take free souvenir photos with the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops or an original Steeplechase horse. Next door to the History Project are windows featuring the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always.” “25 cents to laugh. 25 cents to smile.”

Coney Island Always

Coney Island Always. 25 cents To Laugh and Feel Good. West 12th St, Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

–Coney Island USA’s Noisefest is a free event from 2 till 5pm featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll Karaoke with the band Mystical Children and a “Follow the Bouncing Ball Vintage Movie Singalong” by the Museum of Interesting Things.

Rita’s Italian Ice is celebrating the Grand Opening of its Coney Island store by offering free regular size ices to visitors all day Sunday as well as Monday.

The rides at Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado Bumper Cars will continue spinning daily through April 22nd during spring break for New York City’s public schools. For the rest of April and May, the rides will be open weekends until Memorial Day Weekend, when the daily schedule kicks off for the summer.

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See-saw circus clown bicycle

See-saw circus clown bicycle from the David Metz Museum. Copake Antique & Classic Bicycle Auction. April 12, 2014

This homemade see-saw bicycle for a pair of circus clowns will be on the auction block at Saturday’s 23rd Annual Antique & Classic Bicycle Auction in Copake, New York. Here’s hoping unicyclist Keith Nelson, whose alter ego is the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus‘s Mr Pennygaff, buys it, so we can one day see it in action. The sale begins at 9:00 am with online bidding available via live auctioneers.

Among the 900 lots from museums and private collections are boneshakers, high wheels, adult tricycles, and early pneumatic safeties from the Metz Bicycle Museum of Freehold, New Jersey, which closed after the 97-year-old collector’s death last year. In addition to the see-saw bike, unusual bicycles from the museum include children’s bicycles, an ice bicycle and a pontoon bike from the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

On the day after the auction, Sunday, April 13th, a bicycle ride around Manhattan will celebrate the life of David Metz. According to the website of The Wheelmen, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling: “This ride is open to all wheelmen and wheelwomen, all who are friends of the Metz Bicycle Museum or the Copake Bicycle Auction, and anyone else who was a friend to David. The ride will start from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in the Battery, NYC, at 10:00 AM.”

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Photo Booth Under the Wonder Wheel

Photo Booth Under the Wonder Wheel, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last month, a former Brooklynite whose daughter would soon be celebrating her 4th birthday was looking for a photo booth in New York City. “Every year we’ve gone to a photo booth for her birthday and this year we cannot find one,” he wrote. “All the ones we’ve used, or seen, have been removed. We’re from Brooklyn, but now live in PA, and we’re visiting this weekend. Is there a booth that’s in an accessible area?”

The only one we could think of that wasn’t in a dive bar and was open is in Manhattan’s Ace Hotel in the Flatiron district. The concierge said it is open to the public. They have them at all of their hotel locations. Under the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island, which opens for the 2014 season on Sunday, there is both an old-fashioned black and white and a color photo booth. So much better than a selfie!

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Coney Island Kittens

Coney Island Boardwalk Kittens, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Since the dramatic rescue of Coney Island cat Snow Coney in November, we’ve written about model programs to manage feral and stray cats at Disneyland and the Atlantic City Boardwalk and asked – Why not Coney Island? It’s about to be launched.

There will be an organizational meeting on April 15th at 6:30pm at the Coney Island YMCA Community Room located on West 29th Street at Surf Avenue. Hosted by Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, the purpose is to organize volunteers and support to help the stray and feral cats on the Coney Island Boardwalk. You must register via eventbrite since seating is limited. If you can’t make it on April 15th, follow the project’s new Facebook page or send a note to brooklyn.rescue.umbrella[AT]gmail[DOT]com indicating your interest to be contacted for the next meeting.

You’re invited to an organizational meeting to start a pilot program in Coney Island similar to Alley Cat Allies’ successful Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project to care for feral and stray cats. The program would utilize feeding stations, shelters and TNR—Trap Neuter Return – a humane and effective method of feral cat management that stabilizes the size of the colonies and reduces nuisance behaviors.

In Atlantic City, where the city-approved project was started in 2000, Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats draws visitors from all over the country. Disneyland in California also has a managed colony of 200 feral cats who dine at five discreet feeding stations and receive medical care. The bonus for the community is the rodent population is kept under control and calls to public officials about cats are eliminated.

Meeting organizer Josie Marrero will talk about the feral and stray cat population along the Coney Island Boardwalk, where demolition and redevelopment have displaced some colonies and thrown others into crisis. A video of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project will be screened. A representative of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals committed to solving NYC’s feral cat overpopulation crisis through TNR, will attend to answer questions.

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Immediate Needs

–Volunteers to assist with trapping, recovery, and transportation. Let us know if you have TNR certification or experience with feral cats or cat rescue.

–A volunteer coordinator as well to help with social media and fundraising. We would like to raise funds via Indiegogo or Kickstarter and also ask local businesses and property owners for support.

–Recovery space is needed for the cats immediately after trapping and post surgery. It should be a safe, quiet space. Male cats may be released after 24 hours, female cats after 48 hours.

–Approval of pilot program, including feeding stations, shelters and TNR, by the Parks Department and other City agencies, and property owners. Over the winter, BRU volunteers put out shelters, straw and food, only to be admonished and the shelters removed.

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project – Organizational Meeting hosted by Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, Coney Island YMCA Community Room, 2980 W 29th St, Brooklyn, NY 11224. Tuesday, April 15, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

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1957 Chevy Bel Air

1957 Chevy Bel Air in front of the Original Nathan’s, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday in Coney Island, two classic Chevrolets in front of the original Nathan’s Famous were the center of attention for tourists and locals alike. The 1957 Bel Air and the 1963 Impala were parked on Stillwell Avenue while their owners were inside ordering lunch.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Car show trophies won by 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air displayed in back seat. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The rolled down windows of the Bel Air afforded a glimpse of trophies from classic car shows and souvenirs. Tourists from France, Scotland and Manhattan took advantage of the photo op while we were there.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevy Bel Air in front of the Original Nathan’s, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The Bel Air was graced with a SATCHMO license plate, though a statue of Elvis Presley rested in the back seat. The Impala had a miniature version of itself in the back window…

1963 Chevy Impala

1963 Chevy Impala parked in front of Nathan’s. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Here’s another photo that shows both classic cars. One of our friends shot virtually the same photo in black and white, lending it the look of a photo taken back in the 1960s. The original Nathan’s opened at this location in 1916.

1963 Impala and 1957 Bel Air

1963 Impala and 1957 Bel Air in front of the Original Nathan’s, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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