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Coney Island Mermaid Parade

2014 Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Photo © Norman Blake. all Rights Reserved

Happy Mermaid Day! Today is the 33rd Annual Mermaid Parade produced by non-profit arts org Coney Island USA. America’s largest art parade is worth the trip from anywhere. If you plan to march as a mermaid or other sea creature, or simply watch it from the curb or the boardwalk, we recommend getting here early, say 11:00am. To avoid traffic jams, take the D, F, N or Q train to Stillwell Avenue and leave your car at home unless it’s one of the vintage cars in the Parade.

The Mermaid Parade starts rolling down Surf Avenue at 1:00pm, but parade-goers can also take photos in the staging area on West 21st Street from 10:30am till 12:30pm, for a fee of $20. Check out our post from last year, Fave Spots to Photograph Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade (ATZ, June 19, 2014).

Although the Mermaid Parade is free to watch, it costs a lot of clams to produce, say the folks at Coney Island USA, who are trying a new method of fundraising this year. Fans of the Parade are being asked to text MERMAID to 91999 and make a donation. Everyone who makes a text donation of $20 or more on the day of the Parade will be entered into a raffle for 5 pairs of tickets to one of several Off Broadway shows.

There will be no Mermaid Ball this year due to lack of a suitable venue. Make your own after-party by patronizing Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Freak Bar, and the Coney Island businesses sponsoring the Parade including Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island Brewing Company, Coney Island Smorgasburg, Dona Zita, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Gyro Corner, Paul’s Daughter, Peggy O’Neills, Ruby’s Bar and Williams Candy Shop.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 18, 2015: Photo Album: Making Mulch & Chainsaw Art from Recycled NYC Trees in Coney Island

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

June 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra Opening the Ocean

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Chainsaw Art

Chainsaw Art and Mulch in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Mulch for sale by the yard and the buzz of chainsaws are among the unexpected new sights and sounds in Coney Island’s amusement district this season. Chainsaw carvers creating sculptures and mulch made from recycled New York City sycamores removed under contract with the Parks Department will be on a vacant lot next to the Thunderbolt roller coaster on Mermaid Parade Day and the Fourth of July. The artists are from upstate New York and New England and include Susan Peters of Blue Rose Chainsaw Carvings, Ravena, NY; Sue O’Sullivan of Renaissance Girl, Royalston, MA; and Adam Mulholland of Sickline Carving, Windham, CT.

Chainsaw Carving

Chainsaw Carvings for Sale in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ first met the carvers and took these photos on Memorial Day Weekend in Coney Island, where they’d been invited by Roger West of A.2.Z Universal. West is a subcontractor hired by Paul Bunyan Tree Service to help recycle some of the thousands of trees that have been cut down in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. On Memorial Day, the scene on the Surf Avenue side of the lot where the event took place was reminiscent of a rural county fair. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks to watch the carvers shape wood into fanciful sculptures and buy some of the pieces, which range in price from $20 to a few thousand dollars.

Chainsaw Carving

Chainsaw Carving on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

An array of finished pieces was on display along with piles of mulch for sale and a towering stack of firewood. The carvings included tikis, totems and Hello Kitty, among others. Insignia of the Brooklyn Cyclones and Gargiulo’s Restaurant found homes at these local businesses. For Mermaid Parade Day, the carvers have been creating an inventory of starfish, seahorses and other sea creatures to sell in Coney Island. The privately owned lot is just west of West 15th Street, sandwiched between Luna Park’s Thunderbolt and Peggy O’Neills.

Chainsaw Art Coney Island

Chainsaw Carvings for Sale in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

West has already processed a couple of thousand yards of mulch and has enough wood from New York City trees to make 10,000 more yards. “I can ramp up my production but I need an alternative outlet because we’re producing it at a high rate,” says West, who hopes gardeners, community groups, businesses and anyone in the market for mulch will contact him via A2zuniversalLLC[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Chainsaw Art

Chainsaw Art and Mulch in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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New York City Air Show

It’s been 15 years since Coney Island’s last air show but 2015 won’t be the year for a long-awaited comeback after all. ATZ has learned the New York Air Show that was planned for Coney Island on August 29 and 30 is being moved 60 miles north of New York City, to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY! On Monday, ACC Aerial Events wrote on the forum at Fence Check, an aerial photography site: “In case you have not heard the Brooklyn show has moved to Stewart IAP in Newburgh, NY.”

Air Combat Command Aerial Events is responsible for scheduling the public display of the USAF F-22A Raptor Demo and manages the USAF Heritage Flight program, both of which are scheduled to appear in the show. Kathy White, Chief of Civic Outreach Division of ACC Public Affairs replied to ATZ’s query for confirmation with a note that the show was indeed moved to Stewart International Airport.

The New York Air Show, whose logo incorporates images of the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, and was set for Coney Island’s MCU Park, has not announced the change of venue, nor has it updated its website or Facebook page. ATZ did not receive a reply to a request for comment. The next question is will “The New York City Air Show in Coney Island” on the Blue Angels schedule for August 20-21, 2016″ be in Brooklyn or Newburgh?

In 2010, another producer’s Coney Island Air Show planned for late August and featuring the USAF Thunderbirds could not get all of the necessary permits–a complicated situation by all accounts– and was cancelled. The high cost of police security for the event was also rumored to be a factor. The Thunderbirds finally removed “Brooklyn, NY” from their schedule and Air Force Week NYC went on without a Coney Island Air Show.

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.

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. 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, which was the last year that Coney had an air show. The walls of Astroland’s office were emblazoned with dramatic news photos of these annual events.

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…

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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

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Soapy the Pointer Rides the Wonder Wheel

Soapy the Pointer Rides the Wonder Wheel. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Dogs, parrots, parakeets, snakes, lizards and other pets regularly visit the Coney Island boardwalk with their humans, but this Saturday, May 30, is their special day. On Pet Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, your pet is invited to ride the Wonder Wheel’s stationary cars for free (only people require tickets). Dogs especially enjoy the ocean breezes and the passing scenery — it’s similar to riding in a car, except the Wheel moves slowly.

The 5th Annual Pet Costume Contest emceed by the World Famous *BOB* begins at 1pm and is a chance to win prizes as well as a fun photo op. Registration is online at wonderwheel.com or from 11:30-12:30 on the boardwalk across from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, next to the stage. The registration fee is two cans of cat or dog food, which is donated to Sean Casey Animal Rescue. You may also adopt a pet in Coney Island on Pet Day. Sean Casey’s adoption vehicle will be on West 12th Street for the day.

Paquito the Chihuahua and Fluffy the Guinea Pig were among the winners of the Pet Costume Contest in 2012. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Paquito the Chihuahua and Fluffy the Guinea Pig were among the winners of the Pet Costume Contest in 2012. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Related Posts on ATZ…

May 22, 2014: Video of the Day: Parrots Visit Coney Island

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

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

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Miss Colombia

Miss Colombia and Friends in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusement parks kicked off the Memorial Day Weekend on Friday and starting now through Labor Day are open daily. Beach season begins on Saturday when the lifeguards return to their chairs for the summer. ATZ’s personal must-see-and-do list this weekend includes taking photos, having the first lobster roll of the year and a cold beer at Paul’s Daughter on the Boardwalk, peering through an antique stereoviewer at the Coney Island History Project’s exhibit of stereoview photography, checking out the street art-in-progress at Coney Art Walls, taking more photos, and singing Happy 95th Birthday to the Wonder Wheel, which opened on Memorial Day in 1920. One thing we’ve yet to experience in Coney Island is boredom, but tonight at Coney Island USA, we look forward to seeing Dick Zigun’s play “Boredom,” adapted from Maxim Gorky’s essay about his trip to the Electric Eden in 1904. As the original intro to the essay wisely noted: “What is seen depends upon the eye that sees it.” Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Related posts on ATZ…

May 18, 2015: Zamperla’s Power Surge Set to Make A Coney Island Comeback

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

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

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Coney Island Fireworks

Electric Eden Revisited: Friday Night Fireworks with Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy

With Memorial Day just two weeks away, readers are starting to ask about Coney Island’s fireworks schedule for the summer! The first Friday night fireworks show of the 2015 season will be on June 19, the eve of both the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade. This free weekly event continues on Fridays through August 21. Rain dates are August 28 and September 4. 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 is Steeplechase Pier. For the second year, the Alliance for Coney Island is presenting a special July 4th fireworks at 9:45pm. The Independence Day fireworks will be shot off from the beach adjacent to the Pier. Best viewing is from the Boardwalk and Steeplechase Plaza.

The Brooklyn Cyclones have also announced fireworks on the following eight Saturdays and one Thursday after their home games, including the team’s Home Opener on Saturday, June 20th. 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 West 16th and 19th Streets.

Saturday, June 20 – BROOKLYN CYCLONES HOME OPENER – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, June 27 – vs. Connecticut – Toy Story 20th Anniversary Night, Boy Scout Sleepover – Post-Game Fireworks
Thursday, July 2 – vs. Hudson Valley – Back to the Future 30th Anniversary – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 11 – vs. Aberdeen – Star Wars Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 18 – vs. Vermont – Honeymooners 60th Anniversary Night, Princess & Pirate Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 1 – vs. Batavia – Honeymooners 60th Anniversary Night, Princess & Pirate Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 29 – vs. Aberdeen – Military Appreciation Night, Intern Boot Camp – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, September 5 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Latin Music Night – 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 and resident Bruce Handy for his gorgeous photo of one of the Friday night fireworks shows of the past.

Related posts on ATZ…

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

March 11, 2015: In Coney Island, Two Stores and One NYC Landmark Mark 95th Year

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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Steve ESPO Powers

Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. Signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on Coney Island’s 12th St made by Powers in 2012

Goodbye vacant lots–at least temporarily–hello Coney Art Walls! Thor Equities has recruited a dream team that includes Jeffrey Deitch, art advisor and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and food vendors from Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg to help activate one of their long vacant lots in Coney Island. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV), the consulting firm run by Bryant Park’s Dan Biederman, was hired by Thor to develop events and programming for and manage the lot. There will also be a music stage with live performances throughout the summer.

Smorgasburg Coney Island will have a dozen food vendors operating restaurants out of remodeled shipping containers and two bars serving craft beer, wine and other drinks. Smorgasburg launched in 2011 as a spin-off of Brooklyn Flea, the popular flea market founded by Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby.

“Coney Art Walls will be an outdoor museum, featuring the most innovative street artists from the 1970s to the present,” said Jeffrey Deitch. The art walls will showcase work by famous street artists including Crash, Lee Quinones, Futura, Kenny Scharf, Miss Van, Lady Pink and Swoon. Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. His signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on West 12th St was installed in 2012. For Powers, whose Dreamland Artists Club created signage for Coney Island businesses in 2004 and 2005, only a few of which remain, it marks a return to a landscape changed by real estate speculation, redevelopment and the rezoning of 2009.

“Coney Island visitors need more comfortable places to sit and relax, and we see demand for new activities and programs that will build on the neighborhood’s rich history, and strengthen its reputation as an attraction unlike anything else in New York,” said Ben Donsky, senior project manager at Biederman Redevelopment Ventures. “We are delighted to be part of this wonderful redevelopment program.” The consulting firm’s clients include Bryant Park, the Grand Central Partnership, Fanueil Hall Marketplace, and Rye Playland.

Coney Art Walls 1320 Bowery Coney Island

Prep for ‘Coney Art Walls’ at Thor’s long vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s. April 30, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s is bordered by West 15th Street and the west side of Stillwell Avenue. Thor’s Stillwell properties were once home to amusements galore including the Tornado roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled ride from the New York World’s Fair (1941-1974) and Norman Kaufman’s Batting Cage and Go Kart City, which was forced to close when Sitt bought the property in 2006. Rezoned by the City for retail and entertainment, the lots were used for flea markets in 2009, 2011 and 2012, but remained vacant last year 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.”

Set to begin in May, Coney Art Walls is expected to run at least through September.

UPDATE May 6, 2015:

Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was hired by Thor to manage programming for two lots. What are they planning for Thor’s second long-vacant lot, on the east side of Stillwell, across the street from where Coney Walls will be? “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots.”

As for game trailers coming to the lot and kiosks for rent, as the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying: “There are no actual ‘kiosks’ in our plans on the east side of Stillwell, at least right now,” Donsky says. “But Gordon Lee (of the Eldorado) is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”

Related posts on ATZ…

May 6, 2015: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to Draw Portraits of Coney Island Residents for Coney Art Walls

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

October 28, 2013: Photo Album: Banksy Brings His Robot to Coney Island

February 16, 2013: Photo Album: Post-Sandy MERCY Graffiti in Coney Island

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