There were signs of hope today in Coney Island’s amusement area post-Sandy: the Cyclone cars went for a test run and Deno’s Wonder Wheel was jump started and went for a little whirl. “Wheel sounds good,” said Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park co-owner Dennis Vourderis, adding that the Wheel will still need extensive repairs or replacement of motor controller. Also damaged by Sandy were the Spook-A-Rama dark ride and the arcades on the Wonder Wheel side of the park, which was flooded and had to be pumped out. The Cyclops, a beloved folk art figure that came out of retirement last year, was unharmed and surveyed the cleanup effort with his big green eye.
The Boardwalk eateries Tom’s Coney Island, Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter were miraculously untouched by the storm surge and will be open this weekend. Tom’s, located on the Boardwalk at Stillwell, is the meeting place for a volunteer cleanup of Coney Island that begins at 9am on Saturday and Sunday. Last weekend’s crew shoveled sand from the boardwalk but some streets remain deep in sand.
While Tom’s and Paul’s have power, the other stores including Ruby’s, Nathan’s, Lola star and Brooklyn Beach Shop, suffered damage to the electrical panel in the basement and do not have power yet. Ruby’s Bar, which is open for the first time since the hurricane, will be collecting donations of clothing, coats, blankets and other items for the Coney Island relief effort. Paul’s Daughter is donating all proceeds from weekend sales to the Coney Island History Project, whose free exhibit center was wrecked by the storm, and to Occupy Sandy’s relief effort in Coney Island. “I want to be open because it’s going to be 60 degrees,” said Paul’s daughter Tina Georgoulakos. “I want to do what I can to help out those who have lost so much.”
During the peak of the storm, Surf Avenue as well as Mermaid and Neptune Avenues were submerged in water that came from the bay, Coney Island Creek, and overflowing sewers during the rising tide. Since every store was flooded by five feet of water, business owners were throwing out their ruined products and fixtures. It was heartbreaking to see the contents of the Lola Star Boutique on the sidewalk in front of Stillwell Terminal being picked up by the Department of Sanitation. Please note that Lola Star’s main location on the Boardwalk did not suffer any hurricane damage and remains open for business. Boutique owner Dianna Carlin has already created a “Coney Island Forever” T-shirt, tote bag, mug and other products. Profits from the design will be donated to Coney Island relief.
The Alliance for Coney Island, successor to the Coney Island Development Corp, launched this morning with a 9am meeting at Tom’s and a website featuring the hashtag #ConeyRecovers. “Repairing our community is our primary goal and with the long-term, concerted effort on the part of local leaders and the continued generosity of Coney Island fans around the world, we will continue the Coney Island renaissance,” said Dennis Vourderis, Chairman of the Alliance for Coney Island, in a press release posted on the site.
On Monday ATZ managed to get to Coney Island’s amusement area for the first time since the storm, but problems with internet connectivity and other post-hurricane issues have kept us from uploading more photos or blogging. As soon as the DSL is back, we’ll upload the rest of the photos to flickr and post the set here…
UPDATE March 7, 2013:
Coney Island’s traditional Palm Sunday Opener comes early this year – March 24th! The rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado will go for their first spin of 2013. The Cyclone opens at 12 noon with the first 100 fans on line riding for free. At Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the annual Blessing of the Rides ceremony starts at 11 am on the Boardwalk.
This year, to celebrate Coney’s comeback from Sandy, rides on the landmark Wonder Wheel are free for everyone on Opening Day. The Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center will be open, along with its neighbors “Coney Island Always,” a window showcasing a miniature animated amusement park, and “Miss Coney Island” the dancing doll. It’s also the first official day of the season for the Boardwalk shops and eateries and the games on the Bowery.
Nathan’s on the Boardwalk will open on March 18 while the target date for reopening their main location on Surf Avenue is Memorial Day Weekend. Also expected to open on that weekend are Coney Island USA’s Circus Sideshow, The B&B Carousell at Steeplechase Plaza, and Big Mark’s Action Park. The New York Aquarium has announced it will partly reopen in the spring.
Related posts on ATZ…
November 24, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage
November 13, 2012: Coney Island’s Eldorado Wins Lease But Bumper Cars Soaked by Sandy
November 10, 2012: A Coney Island Girl’s Story: 13 Days With No Power
October 30, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island