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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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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Amusements of America

Amusements of America at the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson, South Carolina. October 30-November 9, 2014. Photo via Coastal Carolina Fair Facebook

Fair season is in full swing in the Southeast with the 11-day Coastal Carolina Fair in South Carolina’s Charleston County wrapping up this weekend. Amusements of America has played the fair for over 50 years and this year’s midway boasts 65 rides including such thrillers as the Crazy Mouse, Banzai, Space Roller and Tornado.

Check out the new fair foods reviewed by Hanna Raskin, food critic for the Post & Courier, who liked the deep-fried barbecue on a stick enough to consider ordering it for an off-fairgrounds lunch. Concessionaire Derek Porter’s Eastern Carolina whole hog barbecue is saturated with vinegar, a flavor that stands out in the Coastal Carolina Fair’s sea of sugar and salt, Raskin writes. “The barbecue is encased in sweet hushpuppy batter, which fries up impressively free of grease.”

Also on the new foods menu at the fair–Netterfield’s Frosted Flake chicken tenders-on-a-stick and Prowant’s Specialties’ deep-fried Sugar Daddy and pumpkin funnel cake with cream cheese icing.

Next week, A of A heads to the November 11-16 Okefenokee Fair in Waycross, Georgia.

Coastal Carolina Fair

Photo via Coastal Carolina Fair Facebook

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Coney Island Polar Bear Club

Coney Island Polar Bear Club. November 2, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Sunday, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club went for their first swim of the season. “Summertime has gone away, Polar Bears are here to stay,” the Bears chanted as they warmed up by doing jumping jacks on the beach.

The Club swims at 1:00pm every Sunday from November through April. Membership is currently closed but you can join them for a guest swim. Just turn up at the Bears Clubhouse at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing. Or welcome the New Year by joining the annual January 1st Polar Bear Dip in Coney Island, a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine.

Polar Bear Club member and filmmaker Jim McDonnell shot this short video of Sunday’s swim to mark the 111th season of the winter swimming club. It was a windy day on the beach and boardwalk with air temps in the 40s.

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

February 7, 2012: Video of the Day: The Coldest Thing on Coney Island

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December 26, 2010: Video: Today’s Snow Swim with Coney Island Polar Bears

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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. (more…)

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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.

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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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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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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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