Coney Island had 64 rides when we did our annual ride census in April, but starting this week it will have 62. McCullough’s Kiddie Park, whose colorful banners trumpeting “More Rides” had a dozen rides, is losing two. The kiddie park owner is getting squeezed out by Thor Equities. A section of their park occupied by three rides–the Frog Hopper, kiddie train and boats– is a lot owned by Thor and was subleased to them a few years ago by Norman Kaufman.
Now that the sublease has expired, Thor Equities reportedly offered a new lease with such onerous terms that the park’s owners will not sign it. The three rides have to be off Thor’s property by Thursday, June 16th. On Monday, the little park’s train ride was sent packing. The kiddie boat ride also went bye bye. Meanwhile, the majority of the other rides had to be dismantled and rearranged to accommodate the Frog Hopper, which is staying. McCullough’s Kiddie Park, located at West 12th and the Bowery in Coney Island, will reopen this weekend with 10 rides.
The McCullough family is related to Steeplechase Park’s Tilyous and has owned and operated rides in Coney Island for many years and we hope many years to come. In 2005, Jimmy McCullough sold the B & B Carousell, the last wooden carousel in Coney Island, to the City after the death of his business partner Mike Salzstein. You can listen to Jimmy McCullough’s interview about learning the carousel business from his father, James McCullough, who began his career working on the Steeplechase and Stubbman carousels, in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive.
Joe Sitt, CEO of Thor, on the other hand, has zero rides on his Coney Island property. What he does have is a dismal flea market disguised as a festival because flea markets are not allowed by the zoning. Despite what you may have read in a NY Times puff piece on Sitt, the flea does not feature “upscale product.” What’ll he do with the tiny lot reclaimed from the kiddie park, put in a few more flea market tables?
Joe Sitt is infamous for evicting amusement rides from his Coney Island properties. In 2007, the real estate speculator evicted the Zipper from 12th Street. He also evicted Norman Kaufman’s Go Karts, Bumper Boats and Batting Cages from Stillwell Avenue to “allow the new development to proceed in a timely manner,” but has built NOTHING there except a failed flea market in 2009 and another flea market this summer. (“Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt,” ATZ, March 3, 2010)
It’s bad enough that the City has let Joe Sitt continue to get away with blighting the amusement area. Why do the New York Times and other mainstream media continue to enable Sitt’s bad behavior with clueless coverage referring to him as a developer? Read the graffiti scrawled on his so-called construction fence: It says “Blight for Spite.”
Related posts on ATZ...
December 24, 2012: In Thor’s Coney Island, Discount on Retail Ride of a Lifetime
October 17, 2012: 50-Year-Old Coney Island Kiddie Park Begins Dismantling Rides
April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!