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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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

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Coney Island Fireworks

Fireworks on Coney Island Beach, July 19, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Readers are already starting to ask about this year’s fireworks, so here you go: The first Friday night fireworks show of Coney Island’s 2014 season will be on June 20, the eve of both the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade. Sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island, this free weekly event continues on Fridays through August 27. Friday night fireworks start at 9:30pm and are shot off from the beach. Best viewing is on the Boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th Streets or from the Wonder Wheel. Another popular viewing spot, Steeplechase Pier, reopened in October after being rebuilt post-Sandy.

UPDATE: On June 27th, the Mayor’s Offices announced that there will be a special Fourth of July Fireworks show in Coney Island at 9:45pm on the Beach and Boardwalk near West 21st Street. July 4th is on a Friday this year and a special permit was required due to the holiday.

The Brooklyn Cyclones also have fireworks inside MCU Park on the following six Saturdays after their home games as well four other days, including the team’s Opening Day, Saturday, June 14th, and June 16 and June 17. This year every Saturday night fireworks show will have a special musical theme. Fireworks at MCU Park start when the game is over, so the time varies and is sometimes later than 9:30. Since the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Fireworks are shot from inside their park, best viewing is within and close to the stadium, which is between W 16th and 19th Streets.

Saturday, June 14 – BROOKLYN CYCLONES HOME OPENER – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Monday, June 16 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Tuesday, June 17 – vs. Hudson Valley Renegades – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 5 – vs. Aberdeen IronBirds – Seinfeld 25th Anniversary Celebration – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 19 – vs Williamsport Crosscutters – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 26 – vs. Vermont Lake Monsters – Elvis Presley Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 2 – vs. Connecticut Tigers – Star Wars Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Wednesday, August 13 – vs. Lowell Spinners – Kosher Kaboom Fireworks
Saturday, August 23 – vs. Tri-City Valley Cats – Princess Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Sunday, August 31 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Fan Appreciation Day -Post-Game Fireworks

When the weather is iffy on a day when fireworks are scheduled, or if the show is delayed, check the Coney Island tweeters on Coney Island Fun’s list for updates. Thanks to People’s Playground photographer Jim McDonnell for his splendid photo of one of last summer’s fireworks shows.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

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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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October 21, 2013: Traveler: Osteria Ai Pioppi’s Homemade Amusement Rides

October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

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

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

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Jersey Devil

Takeshi Yamada and his Jersey Devils at the Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest in 2011. Photo © Takeshi Yamada

The last time Takeshi Yamada competed in the Secret Science Club’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest was in 2011, when he won the “Shock and Awe Award” for his Jersey Devils. He also brought along a freak snake human baby and his constant companion the Sea Rabbit Seara. The Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist will unveil his newest wonders and curiosities when the event returns to Brooklyn’s Bell House on Sunday evening. The contest was not held in 2012 and 2013 due to Superstorm Sandy, Yamada says.

Fiji Mermaid

Rogue Taxidermy by Takeshi Yamada via takeshiyamada.weebly.com

At the 2009 contest, Yamada was awarded “The Most Twisted Prize” for his family of freak show babies made from his own skin. There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Snake Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. Yamada also won the Grand Championship of Taxidermy in 2006 for his 6-foot-long mummified Fiji Mermaid. She’s the one he tried to bring for a ride on the Cyclone roller coaster during the Mr. Cyclone Contest!

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. His new website shows examples of his rogue taxidermy artwork for sideshows and amusement parks, as well as TV shows and museum collections. There are also links to fan videos like this one from 2009 in which Yamada is the outside talker for his Freak Baby Museum in Coney Island. Special today, $1.00!

The Secret Science Club’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, Sunday, April 6 at the Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd Aves) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Doors 7:00 pm, show at 7:30 pm. This event is 21 and over. $12 advance, $15 at door. Subway: F to 4th Ave; R to 9th St; F or G to Smith/9th

UPDATE April 19, 2014:

Congratulations to Takeshi Yamada for winning the grandmaster’s prize in the Secret Science Club’s contest. He was awarded first prize for his “Five-headed Monster from Hell” and “Giant Space Alien Skull.”

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Related posts on ATZ...

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro

September 24, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro

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Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

Ringmistress Philomena and Kinko the Clown of Bindlestiff Family Cirkus via Facebook

Bindlestiff (BIN-dl-stif) noun. A hobo who carries a bundle of bedding and other possessions. From English bindle (bundle) + stiff (tramp).

Tonight through Sunday, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is bringing their cabaret show – a mix of vaudeville, circus, Wild West, burlesque, and sideshow – to the Brooklyn Lyceum. The variety arts troupe founded by Stephanie Monseu (Ringmistress Philomena) and Keith Nelson (Kinko the Clown) is celebrating their 20th anniversary season.

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, 1996. Photo via Facebook

Over the past few weeks, they’ve been posting photos from the family album on their Facebook timeline, beginning with this old-timey snapshot from 1996 with some of the many performers who’ve been with the Cirkus. It’s also a reminder of the many venues where we’ve seen the troupe perform, from Coney Island to Rhode Island, from the Bindlestiff’s Palace of Variety on 42nd Street to a Spiegeltent. For a calendar of upcoming events through the spring and summer, visit http://www.bindlestiff.org.

20th Annual Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cabaret, March 13-16, 8pm shows are 18+. $20 advance / $25 door / $10 discount for anyone in circus makeup. Family matinees for all ages on March 15 and 16 at 3pm. $12 / 4 for $40. Info: 1-877-BINDLES. Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11215.

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May 25, 2013: Saturday Matinee: The Wheel House by Acrojou Circus

February 4, 2013: Rare & Vintage: Girl to Gorilla Sideshow Banner

March 3, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Bluto & Popeye, Kings of Coney’s Mardi Gras

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Coney Island USA Gala.

Coney Island USA Gala, 2012. Photo © Norman Blake

On Saturday, the Coney Island Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach and an entourage of quirky entertainers take over Webster Hall in Manhattan for Coney Island USA’s Spring Gala. Highlights of the Ides of March party include the mock assassination of Caesar, a Mini-Mermaid Parade, and over 50 performers from go go and burlesque dancers to sideshow sword swallowers and fire eaters. Tickets for the annual fundraiser start at $100. Online ticket sales end Friday, March 14th at 5pm. Tickets at the door at Webster Hall on day of show beginning at 6:30pm.

Coney Island USA Spring Gala 2014, Saturday, March 15th, 7pm – 11pm. Webster Hall, 125 East 11 St, between 3rd and 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

Coney Island USA Gala

Sasha FireGypsy Gaulin at Coney Island USA Gala, 2012. Photo © Norman Blake

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February 19, 2014: Five Coney Island Photographers Whose Work You Should Know

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

November 25, 2013: Coney Island Freak Show-Inspired Beer Takes A New Ride

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

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Lady Aye, Sword Swallower. Photo © Rose Callahan

Lady Aye, Sword Swallower. Photo © Rose Callahan

Step right up, the “Sweetheart of the Sideshow” is alive and on the inside at the library! Today at 5pm, sideshow sword swallower and pain-proof girl Ilise “The Lady Aye” Carter is lecturing and performing at The New York Public Library. “Her story exemplifies how overcoming fears can make perceived failures into real opportunities – a skill everyone can benefit from. Live performances of traditional sideshow skills like walking on glass, sword swallowing, and human blockhead make this is a one-of-a-kind experience,” according to the listing.

The free event is at the Tompkins Square Branch of the library at 331 East 10th Street in Manhattan’s East Village.

We’ve attended sideshow performances in art galleries and museums but never in a public library. As far as we know it’s a first.

The Lady Aye, whose writings on sideshow, culture and performance have appeared in many publications, tells ATZ: “I’ve given these talks at places like the Gap and Innovate VA, where I use my experience going from stage-shy financial editor to the ‘Sweetheart of the Sideshow’ and how people can apply these principles of creativity to their own careers. I work with the Alternative Speakers’ Bureau and founder Noah Scalin’s book Unstuck to help people realize these changes.”

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December 4, 2013: Curator of the Unusual Seeks Sideshow Freaks & Working Acts for 2014

November 23, 2013: More Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

November 7, 2013: Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

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

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