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Jim Hand Show Painter

Signs by Show Painter Jim Hand via Facebook.com/Circuspainter

Florida-based show painter Jim Hand is (forgive the pun) an old hand at painting signs and banners for circuses and sideshows including Hall & Christ’s World of Wonders. Over the weekend he posted these photos on his Facebook page with the following pitch that quickly gathered a tip of interested customers.

I been ‘thinking” of doing this for along time….TODAY was THE DAY……I started cleaning out my storage sheds and the old truck in my yard…..Man -o-man some of this stuff hasn’t seen the light of day for YEARS……

I have been saving (hoarding ?) this stuff thinking I might need that piece ‘some day’….

EBAY HERE I COME !!! It’s time to let all my treasures go….But FIRST I will post a picture here on my page to see if any of you has space in your shed for something you “Might need someday”

PM me if you have any interest….

Jim Hand Show Painter

Sideshow Signage by Show Painter Jim Hand via Facebook.com/Circuspainter

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December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

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

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

November 4, 2011: Up for Auction: Ringling Bros Circus Side Show Poster

Forest Park Carousel

First horse back on the Forest Park Carousel after off-season overhaul. Photo via NY Carousel

The century-old landmark carousel in Forest Park, Queens, is awhirl again after an off-season overhaul intended to keep it running for the next hundred years, said David Galst of NY Carousel, which operates the ride for the City’s Parks Department. “We’re taking anything off the ride that rotates,” explains Galst in the video below documenting the carousel’s dismantling and re-assembly. The work started in November and was overseen by restorer Todd Goings of Ohio’s Carousels and Carvings. What makes this carousel unique in today’s world, says Goings, are the outer row of horses carved by Daniel Muller. “They became too valuable and everybody took the carousels down in spite of the horses to collect them. This one survived.”

In 2013, the Forest Park Carousel was designated an official New York City Landmark, the only carousel in the City to have this honor.

Carver Daniel Muller studied sculpting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He found part-time work in the carousel workshops of Charles Looff in Brooklyn and William H. Dentzel in Philadelphia. Dentzel constructed the frame of this carousel in 1890 and the majority of the carved figures are believed to date from 1903 or 1910. It was originally in Dracut, Massachusetts, and opened at Forest Park in 1973 to replace another Dentzel carousel destroyed in a fire. The carousel has 36 jumpers, 13 standing horses and three menagerie animals – a lion, a deer and a tiger.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 25, 2014: Amusement Rides Return to Staten Island’s Beachfront

March 5, 2014: RFP for Operator of Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel

May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

This 16-minute documentary by Mike Edwards and newly posted on YouTube was made in 1977 to celebrate the Cyclone’s 50th anniversary. It’s fantastic to see the roller coaster in action in the ’70s. The opening sequence features Silvio Pinto, whose family bought and began operating the roller coaster in 1959 before selling it to the City a decade later. The film also stars famed riders Mike Boodley, who rode the Cyclone for 1001 consecutive rides, and Richard Rodriguez, who holds the Guinness World Record for riding the coaster continuously for four days. At the time the film was made, Edwards was a college student in Staten Island. His film was nominated for his school’s “Oscars” and toured NYC Parks with the Parks Foundation’s Filmobile.

As a boy born and raised on three of the 5 boroughs of NYC from 1951 to 1979, a summertime trip to Coney Island was always in the mix. I remember the day while confined to Steeplechase Park, (the grandest kiddie amusement park ever!), when my gaze became transfixed on the world class wooden roller coasters that thundered and squealed off in the distance. I couldn’t wait for the day when I was old enough and big enough to ride these coasters. I measured myself by first getting comfortable riding the Thunderbolt and then the Tornado roller coasters before I felt ready for the Cyclone.

Fast forward to 1977 when I chose the Cyclone to be the subject of a documentary film exercise while attending the very fine Richmond College, an experimental humanities school in the CUNY system, where I was to receive a BA in Cinema Studies. With either a wind-up Bolex 16 or a Bell & Howell Filmo 16mm camera and a 100’ spool of reversal film, I went to visit my subject while under a blanket of snow. Like coming upon a hibernating beast, I kept my distance shooting wide shots without a footprint. Aided by the calm of this early Sunday morning, I could feel a life-force at rest, knowing what was expected of it and what was to unfold in the early spring months. Right there on Surf Avenue, I knew my documentary project would be to explore and maybe expose that this mechanical, inanimate object is actually a being with a distinct personality.

Related posts on ATZ…

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

January 5, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

candy apples

First candy apples of the season at Deno’s Sweet Shoppe, Coney Island. April 5, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the Sweet Shoppe in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park on Easter Sunday. Take your pick- plain, or rolled in coconut or nuts. Your first candy apple of the season is always the most delicious!

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February 18, 2015: Photo of the Day: Hello Kitty and Honey Bear at Nathan’s Famous

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

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

June 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

Power Surge Astroland

Zamperla’s Power Surge which debuted in 1999, opened in Astroland in 2001. Photo © The Astroland Archive.

It’s going to be a retro season on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Though not yet officially announced, two rides set to debut in Luna Park’s Scream Zone were once among the must-rides in Astroland Park. Central Amusement International, the park division of ride manufacturer Zamperla, is bringing in a new Power Surge as well as what is believed to be a remake of the classic Enterprise called the Endeavor. The Power Surge will be on West 12th Street adjacent to the Steeplechase coaster while the Endeavor will replace the Boardwalk Flight Sky Coaster.

When Zamp’s Power Surge came to Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001, a press release said it was drawing people into the park like a magnet and put on a great show. A photo of the ride was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. “After decades of decay, the weirdly wonderful Coney Island is poised for a comeback” was the intro to the cover story “Fantasy Island.” The Power Surge made its debut in 1999 and remains among the ride manufacturer’s most popular rides.

The Enterprise, which first came out in 1972, was named after the Star Trek starship. Manufactured by Huss, the spinning thrill ride was a fave at Astroland from the 1970s until the early 2000’s when it was sold to New Jersey’s Casino Pier. Lake Compounce, Dorney Park and Strates Shows are among the owners of the 20 or so Enterprises operating in the U.S. today.

Enterprise at State Fair Meadowlands

Strates Shows’ Enterprise at State Fair Meadowlands 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

It’s fun to go back and read what ride aficionados had to say about the full-tilt action of Astroland’s Power Surge and Enterprise.

“This is yet another example of a ride that really benefits from the demonic ride ops of Coney Island,” wrote Steve NY of the Power Surge in Theme Park Critic in 2008. “Most times I come off a Power Surge completely disappointed because the ride just seems so tame while on it; whereas on the ground it looks incredibly intense. However, as I said earlier, Coney Island dished out a ride cycle that lasted over 3 minutes consistently, easily double that experienced on other Power Surges.”

Here’s a video of a Zamperla Power Surge at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Show in 2013:

Last June at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Fair, ATZ snapped photos of Strates Shows’ Enterprise. It is mesmerizing to watch and an intense thrill to ride. Jersey amusement ride blogger The DoD3, who has ridden both the Strates’ and Astroland Enterprises, had this to say in his review of the ride:

Once secured, the wheel begins to spin until it hits warp speed. Once riders are nice an plastered to the seat, the arm holding the wheel begins to rise up to 87 degrees (basically vertical.) Most Enterprise rides will keep the wheel vertical for less than a minute, however I’ve seen some go for longer. Strates’ Enterprise goes for at least a minute and a half. Astroland’s old Enterprise went for three plus minutes!

Related posts on ATZ…

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

January 31, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Wahlburgers Signage Goes Up at Thor’s Retail Building

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

January 20, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Adds Scrambler, ‘Twist & Shout’ Drop Tower

Sleep Inn Hotel Stillwell Avenue

Sleep Inn Hotel nearing completion on Stillwell Ave and Avenue Z. Photo © Diana Baggott

A Sleep Inn Hotel, the Coney Island area’s first new hotel in many decades, is nearing completion at Stillwell Avenue and Avenue Z, just north of Coney Island Creek. Mahesh Ratjani, one of the partners in the project, tells ATZ they hope to open in three months. Under construction since the last quarter of 2013 and originally projected to open by the beginning of 2015, the hotel awaits a certificate of occupancy. According to DOB records, the 12,989 square foot, four-story hotel occupies a 13,000 square foot lot. Sleep Inn is a member of the Choice Hotels Group.

As we noted in a post that was the first to report the new construction in December 2013, there are currently no hotels in the Coney Island area and it’s been many decades since a new one opened. The long-shuttered, 110-year-old Terminal Hotel across from Stillwell Terminal was destroyed by fire last year. The grand Half Moon Hotel, built on the Boardwalk in 1927, was later turned into a geriatric center before being demolished in 1996.

Sleepi-Inn Hotel

The City’s rezoning of Coney Island included the upzoning of three Thor Equities-owned properties on the south side of Surf Avenue between Stillwell and Jones Walk for hotels up to 30 stories. In public hearings, we argued against high rises — including hotels — on the south side of Surf, saying it would destroy instead of enhance Coney Island’s economic potential as an amusement and tourism destination. As it turns out, a hotel has yet to be built on Surf Avenue and we can only hope it never will be. Instead, the Coney Island area’s first new hotel in decades is located in a much more suitable location north of the amusement area with easy access to the Belt Parkway.

Ratjani and his partners own 15 hotels in New York and New Jersey, including the Comfort Inn off the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The vacant lot at 2590 Stillwell Avenue was purchased for $1.9 million in 2007, according to Property Shark. The property is conveniently located off the Cropsey Ave/Coney Island exit of the Belt Parkway. The area is technically on the border of Gravesend and Bath Beach, though frequently identified as part of Coney Island. The closest subway stop is Bay 50th, one stop from Coney’s Stillwell Terminal, on the D line.

Sleep Inn Hotel

Sleep Inn Hotel nearing completion on Stillwell Ave and Avenue Z. Photo © Diana Baggott

Related posts on ATZ…

February 13, 2015: Coney Island 2015: IHOP Franchisee Signs Lease for 5,400-Square-Foot Surf Ave Store

January 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Wahlburgers Signage Goes Up at Thor’s Retail Building

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

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

Easter Bunny Best on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Sunday Best at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Happy Easter and Happy Passover from Coney Island! While Palm Sunday is Coney Island’s season opener, it’s Easter that draws the crowds. If the weather is favorable, as we expect this Sunday–“Mostly sunny and breezy. Highs in the upper 50s,” according to the National Weather Service–the day can be as busy for the amusement ride and game operators as the Fourth of July.

In 2010, Easter was on April 4th and temps were in the 70s when we snapped these photos of New Yorkers in their Sunday best. The Boardwalk was a People’s Parade on Easter Sunday. Lines were long at ticket booths and rides were jam packed from noon till nearly midnight!

Easter Sunday, Coney Island

Easter Toddler at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While the kids are off from New York City schools through April 12, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park are open daily for Spring Break, weather permitting. The parks open at 12 noon. Coney Island’s roller coasters–the Cyclone and the Thunderbolt– will be up and running this weekend. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park has four new family rides, including a Mangels’ Whip inspired Speedway and the retro Scrambler.

Keep an eye out for “Easter fresh” outfits, including bunny headgear!

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

East in Coney Island

Easter at Steve’s Grill House on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

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