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Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

The FDNY Color Guard will present the colors and sing the National Anthem at Coney Island’s Opening Day Ceremony. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

There’s a chance of snow showers on Saturday, but it’s expected to be sunny with temps in the 40s on Palm Sunday, when Coney Island’s rides go for their first spin of the season. In celebration of the landmark Wonder Wheel’s 95th year, the first 95 people will get a free ride on Opening Day. The soon-to-be 88-year-old Cyclone roller coaster will as usual offer free rides to the first 100 on line. Erik Knapp aka Mr. Cyclone is once again expected to arrive the night before to be the first on line.

Michael Sarrel, co-owner of Ruby's Bar

Michael Sarrel, co-owner of Ruby’s Bar. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Saturday, the Boardwalk businesses Ruby’s Bar and Lola Star Boutique will welcome customers for the first time since last fall, joining Tom’s Restaurant and Brooklyn Beach Shop, which are already open daily.

Saturday night is Coney Island USA’s spring gala, which is being held at the art organization’s Surf Avenue headquarters on the eve of Coney’s Opening Day. Featuring performances by burlesque and sideshow stars including Mat Fraser of “American Horror Story,” live music, and go go dancers in the Freak Bar, the event runs from 8pm till midnight.

Coney Island USA Freak Bar

Freak Bar at Coney Island USA. Photo © Norman Blake

The annual fundraiser supports Coney Island USA’s Mermaid Parade, Coney Island Circus Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach, Coney Island Museum and Coney Island Film Festival. General admission of $100 includes unlimited beer, wine, and food. VIP admission of $150 also includes one hour earlier admission at 7pm, Meet and Greet with some of the performers in the V.I.P. Lounge, and gift bags. Tickets may be purchased online until 10pm on Friday. Day of tickets available from 6pm and during the gala at Coney Island USA.

On Palm Sunday, the festivities begin at 10:30am on the Boardwalk with the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park by Pastor Debbie Santiago of Coney Island’s Salt and Sea Mission, speeches by elected officials, and the FDNY color guard presenting the Colors and singing the National Anthem. After a ribbon cutting ceremony at Deno’s gate, the gathering moves to the Cyclone roller coaster, which is operated by Luna Park. Brooklyn’s Borough President performs the traditional Egg Cream Christening of the front car of the Cyclone, after which it goes for its inaugural ride of the season.

Chuck Schumer Erik Knapp

Senator Schumer admires Erik Knapp’s Cyclone Tattoo, Opening Day, March 24, 2013. Photo via Luna Park

The Coney Island Circus Sideshow will run continuously on Palm Sunday from 1pm – 8pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 12.

The Coney Island History Project, located on West 12th Street under the Wonder Wheel sign, will be open special hours from 1pm-6pm for a preview of the 2015 season and free souvenir photos with vintage ride figures. Admission is free of charge.

Also opening on Palm Sunday are 12th Street Amusements and the remaining independent concessions on the Bowery and West 12th Street, including the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island,” the animated windows of “Coney Island Always,” games of skill such as Skin the Wire and Feed the Clown, and Monica, the High Striker Queen of Coney Island.

Coney Island

Monica getting ready to open her High Striker on West 12th Street in Coney Island. March 22, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

March 19, 2015: News and Views: 10 Days Till Coney Island’s Opening Day

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

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 29, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

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Happy Lunar New Year! Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year 4713, the Year of the Sheep, based on the Chinese lunar calendar. On Tuesday night, a Grucci fireworks display over the Hudson River launched a week-long celebration of Chinese art and culture in New York City. For the event schedule, visit the website Fantastic Art China. Many thanks to ATZ reader Jim Levine, who sent us his gorgeous photos and video of the fireworks.

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year 2015

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year, February 17, 2015. Photo © Jim Levine

According to the event’s organizer, the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (part of the Chinese Ministry of Culture), this is the first time in U.S. history that a large-scale fireworks show celebrated the Lunar New Year. The three-barge Grucci Fireworks spectacular employed 27 pyrotechnicians and took 972 man hours to set up. Grucci has produced the fireworks entertainment for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, as well as seven consecutive U.S. Presidential Inaugurations, and World’s Fairs.

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year 2015

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year, February 17, 2015. Photo © Jim Levine

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year 2015

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year, February 17, 2015. Photo © Jim Levine

Related posts on ATZ…

February 16, 2015: February 17: Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays Including July 4, Six Saturdays, and More

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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

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Photo courtesy of Grucci

Photo courtesy of Fireworks by Grucci

On Tuesday, February 17th, there will be a three-barge Grucci Fireworks spectacular on the Hudson River in celebration of the Chinese New Year. The 20-minute show off Pier 84 (West 44th Street) is scheduled to start between 7:30-8:00pm, weather permitting. The rain/snow date is February 18. According to the event’s organizer, the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, this is the first time in U.S. history that a large-scale fireworks show will celebrate the Lunar New Year and it will nearly equal the iconic Macy’s Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular in scope.

“We have joined creative minds and talented teams to really accentuate this remarkable event,” says Phil Grucci, whose pyrotechnicians have choreographed the fireworks to Chinese and Western music recorded by the China National Symphony Orchestra.

Tuesday’s fireworks will launch “Happy Chinese New Year: Fantastic Art China,” a series of concerts, art exhibits and community events through February at the New York Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall, and the New-York Historical Society, as well as the Lunar New Year lighting of the Empire State Building from February 17-19.

UPDATE February 19, 2015:

Check out Jim Levine’s gorgeous photos and video of the fireworks here.

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year 2015

Grucci Fireworks Spectacular on Hudson River for Chinese New Year, February 17, 2015. Photo © Jim Levine

Related posts on ATZ…

February 19, 2015: Video & Photos of the Day: Grucci Fireworks for Chinese New Year in New York City

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays Including July 4, Six Saturdays, and More

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Eric Adams Mark Treyger

Borough President Eric Adams and Councilman Mark Treyger and officials at Dec 18 Announcement for New Year’s Eve Celebration in Coney Island. Photo via Coney Island Facebook

Today’s 1pm rally moved to Boardwalk pavilion at Brighton 4th St, few blocks west of Coney Island Ave, if still raining. Please spread the word!

Borough President Eric Adams, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and possibly Senator Chuck Schumer are scheduled to join the January 18th community rally to save the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk. Councilman Mark Treyger and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, whose districts include the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk, organized the rally, which is at 1pm on the Boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue in Brighton. Take the Q train to the Brighton Beach stop and then walk one block to the Boardwalk.

“I share their views on the Boardwalk,” Borough President Eric Adams said in a sitdown with the Brooklyn Daily last week. “We do need to protect Coney Island and what makes it so special — its history and traditions — and I think a wooden Boardwalk is a part of that.”

We hope YOU will join the rally, too. It’s not an exaggeration to say this may be our last chance to save the Boardwalk. Last month, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission used a form letter from 2012 and incorrect info to reject the Council Members’ petition, according to “Coney’s Boardwalk Should Be a Landmark,” an essay by historian Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project. Meanwhile, the City’s Parks Department and its commissioner Mitchell Silver are going ahead with a project to make a concrete roadway for so-called “emergency vehicles” (garbage trucks, Parks Dept vans etc.) on the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach, a pilot project approved in 2012 by six appointees of Mayor Bloomberg.

Boardwalk Not Sidewalk

Boardwalk Not Sidewalk/No Concrete. Sign on Building Facing Boardwalk East of Ocean Parkway in Brighton Beach. Photo © Bruce Handy

The Borough President co-sponsored Coney Island’s first New Year’s Eve celebration including an LED light show and fireworks at the Parachute Jump, fulfilling a promise he made during the campaign. “The Riegelmann Boardwalk is imprinted with over 90 years of history, helping to establish Coney Island as America’s playground,” Adams said in December, in support of CM Treyger and Deutsch’s petition to make the boardwalk a Scenic Landmark.

“Millions of visitors have made the pilgrimage to southern Brooklyn, and we want to see millions more enjoy its unique, iconic character in the decades to come,” said the Borough President. “I support a scenic landmark designation for the Riegelmann Boardwalk because I believe it is in the best interest of Brooklyn’s cultural and economic well-being. I look forward to working with my elected colleagues and local stakeholders to advance this proposal.”

Boardwalk renovation 1934

The Boardwalk opened in 1923 and was already undergoing renovation in 1934: Group of men ripping up old planking on Coney Island boardwalk near Half Moon Hotel. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection

Mayor Bill de Blasio has not only continued the Bloomberg-approved Concretewalk but failed to listen to local council members and the community. All year, letters and requests for an environmental study and a meeting to discuss the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk with Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver were rebuffed. A stakeholders’ meeting was belatedly arranged on the day before New Year’s Eve, according to a report by the NY Daily News titled “City won’t budge on plan to change Coney Island Boardwalk’s wooden planks to used plastic and concrete.”

“The fate of the Boardwalk is in your hands,” Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance president Rob Burstein wrote today in a letter calling for a huge turnout. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that this is our make or break moment! Please contribute to our common effort in the one way that you can make a difference- Show up and stand with us! I know that you believe that the Boardwalk is worth saving – for ourselves and for future generations – and should not be destroyed by uncaring bureaucrats. You must show up and say so!”

save the boardwalk

Related posts on ATZ…

December 20, 2014: Save the Boardwalk for Future Gens! Sign Brooklyn Pols Petition to Make it ‘Scenic Landmark’

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

Read Full Post »

Coney Island Boardwalk Under Reconstruction. April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Today’s 1pm rally moved to Boardwalk pavilion at Brighton 4th St, few blocks west of Coney Island Ave, if still raining. Please spread the word!

After Bill de Blasio’s campaign rhetoric as the choice for voters who wanted to reject Bloomberg’s policies, we’re disappointed with the Mayor for not only continuing the Bloomberg-approved Concretewalk but failing to listen to local council members and the community. All year, letters and requests for an environmental study and a meeting to discuss the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk with Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver were rebuffed. Finally a charade of a stakeholders’ meeting was hastily arranged on the day before New Year’s Eve.

On Monday evening, Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents Brighton Beach, put out a call for a rally and press conference on Sunday, January 18th.

Rally to Save Our Boardwalk!

COMMUNITY ALERT

Join Council Member Mark Treyger and Council Member Chaim Deutsch in the fight to preserve and protect the historic Brighton Beach and Coney Island Boardwalk.

YOUR help is needed to halt the plans to turn the Boardwalk into a concrete sidewalk with a center roadway for trucks.

PRESS CONFERENCE
WHEN: Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 1 PM
WHERE: On the Boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue

This project will destroy the character of our neighborhood, create dangerous conditions for children, seniors, joggers and everyone else who enjoys the Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk has been badly neglected and allowed to deteriorate. Yet the Parks Department refuses to repair it. Turning it into a concrete sidewalk with a center roadway is not the solution!

We have evidence that concrete will increase storm surge damage to our homes and businesses, yet the City and the Parks Department refuse to consider our safety. They just began ripping up a large section in Brighton Beach. This is only the beginning!

The Parks Department is refusing to listen to what the community wants.

OUR LIVES MATTER!

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD MATTERS!

Come to the rally and preserve the Boardwalk!

For more information, contact:
Council Member Mark Treyger 718-373-9673

save the boardwalk

Related posts on ATZ…

December 20, 2014: Save the Boardwalk for Future Gens! Sign Brooklyn Pols Petition to Make it ‘Scenic Landmark’

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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New Years Eve 2015 Coney Island

Preview of New Year’s Eve light show and ‘ball drop’ on Parachute Jump. Photo via Alliance for Coney Island

Already world-famous for its New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, Coney Island is having its first-ever New Year’s Eve celebration on Wednesday and first fireworks show of 2015. The free event will feature a digital “ball drop” on the illuminated Parachute Jump, live entertainment by the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and a fireworks extravaganza. The idea originated with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who vowed to bring a New Year’s Eve celebration to Coney Island when he was elected last year.

“Now that we have our very own seaside ball drop, why be squished like a sardine in Times Square when you can rejoice like royalty in the County of Kings!” said Adams, who plans to make it an annual tradition. The 1939 Parachute Jump, which is known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, is bedecked with 8,000 LEDs and lit year-round, but this is the landmark’s debut as the centerpiece of a celebration.

coney Island Fireworks Jim McDonnell

Fireworks on Coney Island Beach. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Adams teamed up with Coney’s City Councilman Mark Treyger and the Alliance for Coney Island to sponsor the festivities. The fun starts at 9:00pm with a DJ spinning at the Jump, which is located on the boardwalk just west of 16th Street. Revelers will be treated to giveaways as well as complimentary hot chocolate. Sideshow performances and live music begin around 11:00pm 10:30pm with the ball drop at midnight followed by fireworks shot off from the beach.

A number of local bars and eateries will be open for New Year’s Eve and offering extended hours. Tom’s Coney Island, the Boardwalk outpost of the Prospect Park eatery, which has a full bar, will be serving till 12:30am. The original Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue will be open till midnight. Surf Avenue restaurants with bars keeping later hours–till 1 or 2am– are Peggy O’Neill’s (1904 Surf Ave.), Footprints (1521 Surf Ave.) and Applebee’s (1217 Surf Ave.). Dunkin Donuts in Stillwell Terminal is open 24 hours. Eldorado Bumper Cars (1216 Surf Ave.) will be open till 1:00am. All will be open again for Thursday’s Polar Bear Dip.

On New Year’s Day, the fun starts up again at 10am, when Ruby’s Bar, Coney Island’s oldest, will open early to welcome participants of the Polar Bear Dip. Swim time is 1pm sharp and you can avoid long lines by registering in advance online and making a minimum $20 donation to the fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer vacation.

Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Freak Bar will be open from 2-6pm on New Year’s Day. Coney Island’s official parking lot next to MCU Park will be open and FREE for both New Year’s Eve and the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip.

Fire-eater at Coney Island USA Gala

Fire-eater at Coney Island USA. Photo © Norman Blake

Related posts on ATZ…

December 10, 2014: ATZ’s 12 Days of Coney Island Christmas Gift Guide

January 2, 2014: Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge’s Best Dressed of 2014

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

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Eldorado Bumper Cars

Bump Your Ass Off at Eldorado Bumper Cars. Photo © Tricia Vita

Pray for sun on Small Business Saturday because Eldorado Bumper Cars on Surf Avenue will be open if the sun’s out and you’ll be able to “Bump, Bump, Bump Your Ass Off” once again. Though Coney Island’s amusement parks are closed until Palm Sunday, the indoor bumper cars are currently open most weekends from 12 noon till 6 or 7pm, sunny skies permitting. Along with Coney Island USA, Brooklyn Beach Shop, Williams Candy and neighboring restaurants, the indie ride is ready to welcome visitors looking to shop local and shop small tomorrow. (Update Nov. 29, 1pm: It’s not sunny but Eldorado is open anyway. YAY!)

Banner Art Marie Roberts

Sketch for Coney Island USA Sideshow Banner © Marie Roberts at Coney Island USA’s Holiday Gift Fair.

From 1 til 6pm on Saturday, November 29th, Coney Island USA, which is open year-round, is having a Holiday Gift Fair featuring 20-plus vendors selling arts, crafts and vintage items. Santa Claus is also scheduled to make an appearance. CIUSA artist-in-residence Marie Roberts will have a selection of pen, ink and marker sketches. “All are from when I first started,” says the artist, who has painted the banners for the freak show since 1997. The drawing shown above was the preparatory sketch for the banner that graces the sideshow stage. Prices are very reasonable, ranging from $25-$100 for 9″ x 12″ up to 16″ x 56″ drawings.

Photo by John Huntington

Photo of Motordrome at Bloomsburg Fair © John Huntington at Coney Island USA’s Holiday Gift Fair.

Brooklyn photographer and CUNY professor of entertainment technology John Huntington will have prints of some of the photos on his website at Coney Island USA’s gift fair. Among the subjects he photographs are Coney Island, the Rockaways, severe weather, and a variety of shows. One of our faves, because it’s a show so rarely seen nowadays, is his shot of a motordrome at Pennsylvania’s Bloomsberg Fair. Prices range from $10-50 for 8″ x 10″ and 11″ x 14″ prints. Framed prints will also be available and will cost more.

Brooklyn Beach Shop Philomena Marano

Philomena Marano’s silkscreen prints of the Wonder Wheel at Brooklyn Beach Shop. Photo © Tricia Vita

Brooklyn artist Philomena Marano‘s silkscreen prints of the Wonder Wheel, Charles Denson’s books about Coney Island, and a custom line of T-shirts and hoodies are among the gift items at Brooklyn Beach Shop. “Saturday will be the last day we’re open till January 1st,” says Maya Haddad Miller of her store on the Coney Island Boardwalk, which will open for the 2015 season in March. Coney Island Beach Shop, her father’s store on Stillwell Avenue is open year-round. The family-owned business has been in Coney Island since 1996 and carries their own line of Coney T-shirts, as well as official Nathan’s and Coney Island Polar Bear merchandise.

With the exception of Tom’s Restaurant, the stores on the Boardwalk do not have heat and the water is turned off to prevent the pipes from freezing, so staying open weekends after mid-November is iffy. “My general rule is 50 degrees plus we open, under that we don’t.” says Dianna Carlin of Lola Star Boutique. Her brand-new shop on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg and pop-up in Rockaway will be open for Small Business Saturday.

Brooklyn Rock

Hand-printed shirt at Brooklyn Rock on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Another small business in Coney Island’s amusement area that has ventured beyond Coney to make ends meet during the off-season is Brooklyn Rock. “This time of year we’re scrambling to vend where there’s foot traffic,” says Seth Braunstein, whose shop sells hand-printed shirts, tote bags and other items designed by Chris Smith. Their Stillwell Avenue shop, which is heated, is open daily, 11am-7pm, through the winter with the exception of weekends when they’re doing markets elsewhere. For Small Business Saturday, Brooklyn Rock will be at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Williamsburg, and then Friends School (December 6), PS 29 Eat Pie & Shop (December 7) and Downtown Brooklyn Grove Alley Nite Market (December 13).

Williams Candy

Williams Candy on Surf Ave next to Nathan’s in Coney Island Photo © Tricia Vita

The window of Williams Candy is hard to resist and it’s one of our favorite places to photograph in Coney Island. The 75-plus year old candy shop owned by Peter Agrapides is open daily year round and does special orders for parties and gift boxes. Hours are 9 am till 7 pm during the off season. Choose from 10 different kinds of candy apples and half-dozen marshmallow treats. A gift box of candy apples is 12 for $18.00. A dozen marshmallow treats are $12.00. Special orders require 3-4 days advance notice.

See ATZ’s post “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round” for more info on visiting Coney Island during the off-season.

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