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Speedway Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

One of NASCAR themed race cars from the Zamperla Speedway ride at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. March 2, 2015. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

This season in Coney Island, the famed Whip returns with a NASCAR twist. One of the three new family rides debuting at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park this spring is the popular Speedway, a Mangels’ Whip inspired ride manufactured by Zamperla. Race cars revolve around an oval track and whip around the ends against a colorful backdrop of race scenes. Adults and children can enjoy riding together, which is a plus for parents taking kids for their first rides at an amusement park.

Zamperla Speedway at Denos Wonder Wheel Park

Speedway ride being assembled at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. March 2, 2015. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, is one of the amusement industry pioneers honored in the Coney Island Hall of Fame. The beloved vintage Mangels’ Fire Engine and Pony Cart rides in Deno’s Kiddie Park and the 1919 B&B Carousell were manufactured at the Mangels’ factory on 8th Street. The Whip, which was patented more than a century ago, in 1914, was a huge success. A 1924 ad described it as “Famous throughout the world –The WHIP! Thrilling amusement ride – a product of Coney Island – manufactured exclusively by WF Mangels- Coney Island NY USA,” followed by a list of foreign reps.

Fatty Rides the Whip

Fatty Arbuckle Rides the Whip in 1917 silent film comedy 'Coney Island'

Coney Island has had dozens of Whips, but the ride eventually disappeared from the place of its origin.

As William F. Mangels said when he was in his 80s, “This business is one of cycles. Old things come back into popularity.”

The Speedway ride will go for its first spin at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park on March 29, which is Palm Sunday and Coney Island’s Opening Day.

Zamperla Speedway

Zamperla Speedway in Action. Photo via Zamperla

Related posts on ATZ…

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

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

Jone Walk, Off Season

Jones Walk, Off Season. November 2, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Walking around Coney during the off-season? Check out ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places.

Related posts on ATZ…

January 25, 2015: Photo of the Day: Snowy Cyclone and Boardwalk by Bruce Handy

November 21, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Farmers’ Market

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

Bride & groom kiss in front of Cyclone roller coaster

Bride & groom kiss in front of Cyclone roller coaster. June 6, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Remember when the Cyclone ticketbooth said “How Sweet It Is”? Today is the birthday of Brooklyn-born Jackie Gleason and in honor of his signature line, we looked for photos. The only ones we could find are from 2009 of a bride and groom who stopped traffic on West 10th Street to kiss in front of the famed roller coaster.

Along with “And awaaay we go!,” the phrase “How sweet it is!” was Gleason’s trademark and the title of his biography. And it remains our favorite of the sayings that have been emblazoned on the front of the ride over the years.

Bride & groom in front of Cyclone roller coaster.

Bride & groom in front of Cyclone roller coaster. June 6, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Brooklyn Rock

Display of Paintings of the Elephant Hotel and the Parachute Jump by Yukiko Wada, hand-screened Tees by Wada and husband Chris Smith at Brooklyn Rock. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Mom & Pop art T-shirt shop Brooklyn Rock is out but not down. After 21 months in Coney Island, the arrangement they had with Thor Equities for space in the developer’s retail building at Surf and Stillwell has come to an end. The 1,500-square-foot store, for which they paid a percentage of income as rent, will be partly taken over by celebrity burger chain Wahlburgers, which is set to open its first New York franchise in May in the vacant restaurant space next door.

As ATZ reported earlier this month, the one-of-a-kind Brooklyn Rock shop was open daily regardless of the season or the weather, and was one of the few places in Coney to buy a souvenir tee in February. “At the end of the proverbial day, it was a pop-up shop and we had a good run,” says Brooklyn Rock brand manager Seth Braunstein, who doesn’t want people to feel sorry for them or villainize Thor, with whom they parted on good terms. “I might get a call at some point to do a pop up in another of their Brooklyn locations. Who knows?”

Brooklyn Rock

Brooklyn Rock’s pop-up store at 3015 Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island closed in February. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Brooklyn Rock’s tees, hoodies, aprons and other items are hand-dyed in unique colors and hand-printed from hand-drawn designs by artists Chris Smith and Yukiko Wada, the couple who founded the business in their Bushwick apartment in 2002. Braunstein says they’re relocating the wholesale print operations to a mezzanine space within a larger retail environment in Greenpoint called the Flying Squirrel. “It is an amazing children’s shop that we’ve wholesaled our gear to since they were located on North 6th in Williamsburg. We’re excited at the huge wholesale opportunities ahead and are gratified at the run we enjoyed in Coney.”

Before opening their Coney Island store in May 2013, the Brooklyn Rock team also wholesaled their merchandise to Coney Island USA’s gift shop, which they hope to do once again. Their previous retail shops include a street kiosk on Bedford Avenue, a shipping container at the now defunct DeKalb Market where Century 21 was built, and a Pintchik property across from Barclays Center, where foot traffic turned out to be slow. “When you’re an independent little guy, you’re swimming with sharks. We’re still swimming. We’re good. Ultimately we’re survivors,” says Braunstein.

Brooklyn Rock Larry David

Audrey Jakeway wearing Brooklyn Rock’s Larry David tee at preview performance of his new Broadway show “Fish in the Dark.” February 5, 2015. Photo via Brooklyn Rock Facebook

When ATZ interviewed Braunstein for the post that ran earlier this month, the shop had already received the vacate notice, but we did not mention it because they were hoping for an extension from Thor, as had happened last year. At that time, Luna Park offered them a kiosk in the amusement park, but they declined since they were able to keep their store. As for the vacant stores on the north side of Surf, where property owners have leased to restaurant and food businesses, Braunstein doesn’t think the location would bring them as much foot traffic as the south side of Surf.

While Brooklyn Rock is confident about landing a better spot, this story underscores the dim prospects for Mom & Pops hoping to come to Coney Island amid the influx of chains, both at Thor’s property on the south side of Surf and with the property owners on the north side. Currently there are a dwindling number of spaces for lease and Coney Island’s risk-averse landlords prefer the better-funded chains and franchisees. Brooklyn Rock’s lucky break came when Braunstein saw a news article about space for lease in Thor’s then-vacant new building and sent them a proposal. Thor Equities had sent out a press release that said: “Thor To Add Local Flavor To Coney Island By Leasing Major Surf Avenue Parcels To Local Brooklyn Merchants At Reduced Rents For 2013.”

Tenants at Thor’s now fully-leased “Retail Ride of A Lifetime” building across from Stillwell Terminal include candy chain It’Sugar, apparel chain Rainbow Shop, the Brooklyn Nets Shop, Brooklyn Beach Shop spin-off Surf and Stillwell, and the soon-to-debut Wahlburgers. The building also had a Little Caesars Pizza pop-up last summer and two incredibly tiny mini-arcades, which are the shameful extent of the amusements required by the City’s Coney Island Comprehensive Rezoning Plan passed in 2009.

Thor Equities mini-arcade

The only amusements in Thor’s retail building are two mini-arcades, the size required by the City’s Rezoning Plan. One arcade is next door to the apparel chain Rainbow Shops. august 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

It’s telling that in recent weeks ATZ’s top ten posts have been about IHOP, Wahlburgers and other chains coming in 2015. In addition to the already opened national chains and franchises such as Applebee’s, Rita’s Italian Ice, and Dunkin’ Donuts on Surf Avenue, a few new Mom & Pops like Lunatics Ice Cream and Luna Park Cafe opened last season. An outpost of Piece of Velvet, a cake and cupcake shop with locations in Fort Greene and Harlem opened on Valentine’s Day. On the north side of Surf, IHOP recently signed a lease to open a restaurant while Johnny Rockets remains under construction and Subway Cafe and Checkers have put their signs up and are almost ready to open.

Related posts on ATZ…

February 4, 2015: In Wintry Coney, Brooklyn Rock’s Hand-Printed Tees Keep Summer Dreams Alive

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

December 5, 2014: Wahlburgers Burger Franchise to Open in Coney Island

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

Steeplechase Luna Park

Steeplechase Ride at Luna Park. Coney Island’s amusement rides open for the 2015 season on Palm Sunday, March 29th. Photo © Tricia Vita

Want to get into the business of fun? An array of amusement park jobs including ride operator, bartender, games manager and online marketing coordinator are up for grabs. Coney Island’s first job recruitment events of the 2015 season are on Monday and Tuesday and some employers have started posting ads on Craigslist and specialized job boards. Coney Island’s opening day is early this year–March 29th–with the parks open weekends and school holidays until the daily schedule begins on Memorial Day Weekend.

The February 23rd and 24th recruitment event is hosted by the Alliance for Coney Island in partnership with Human Resources Administration, NYCEDC’s HireNYC Program and Council Member Mark Treyger. It will be held at MCU Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Stadium (1904 Surf Avenue) from 12 noon till 4pm. Representatives from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Luna Park, Nathan’s Famous, Ruby’s Bar and Grill, and Applebee’s will be among the businesses interviewing for ride operators, game operators, park services, food services and cashiers. The independently operated games of skill on West 12th Street are also seeking game operators for the 2015 season.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is among the Coney Island businesses seeking job applicants at this week’s workforce recruitment event. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

CAI Foods, the food division of Zamperla’s Central Amusement International, which operates Luna Park, will have a job fair next week on March 2nd and 3rd. CAI Foods operates Place to Beach, the Cyclone Cafe and kiosks in Luna Park. Food service jobs include cook, service assistant, kiosk operator, bar back, bartender and cashier. The job fair will be held at the B&B Carousell on the Boardwalk next to the Parachute Jump. All applicants must complete an online application before attending the job fair.

Luna Park is also seeking an Online Marketing Coordinator to create and manage engaging content for the park’s website, social media and e-newsletters ($38,000). “This gig is unlike any other social media job,” says the job description. “You’ll be running around creating content with a small camera and your wits, coordinating with our photographers and videographers and pestering staff members for exciting information for our online audience. We won’t lie — it’s tough, you’ll be busy as heck during the summer (especially weekends) and we need someone who is just a little bit awesome.”

Cat Rack in Coney Island

A supervisor and game attendant practice “Downing A Clown” on Surf Avenue, Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Managerial job openings at Luna Park include a Warehouse Manager to oversee a team responsible for stocking games, merchandise, photo booths, uniform inventory, maintenance spare parts and other items ($40,000-$45,000) and a Games and Retail Manager with experience in the amusement industry ($45,000-$50,000).

Nathan’s Famous is hiring Restaurant Managers and Shift Managers for their Coney Island locations. Experienced RMS earn up to $865 per week and shift managers up to $15 per hour.

Ruby’s Bar and Grill on the Boardwalk is hiring a manager and assistant manager, as well as a cook, counter help, and bartender, according to a new post on their website.

The Alliance for Coney Island is looking for a Marketing and Corporate Partnerships Manager with experience in marketing, corporate partnerships, communications and media/press relations.

UPDATE March 18, 2015:

Game of skill operators are needed for the 2015 season at the independent games on West 12th street off the Boardwalk. Apply in person or message @MissConeyIsland via twitter.

Wahlburgers is hiring a Marketing and Events Coordinator for the franchise opening in Coney Island

Luna Park is seeking Brand Ambassadors to work both in Coney Island and off-site. Additional positions listed on the job opportunities section of the park’s website.

UPDATE March 8, 2015:

On Monday, March 9th, from 10am – 4pm, there will be an additional workforce screening event for jobs with Luna Park, Eldorado Skooter and others. The location is Gargiulo’s Restaurant, 2911 West 15th Street off Surf Avenue in Coney Island.

Samuel Adams’ Alchemy & Science division, which is opening a brewery on Surf Avenue for their line of Coney Island Beer, is seeking an account manager. “Coney Island Brewing Company is a local New York brewery and we need you to join our team to sell our beers. We need you promoting Coney Island beers in the New York market. Adult alcohol industry experience strongly preferred.”

Seasonal positions with Aramark’s food and beverage operation at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, include a concessions supervisor . They are also hiring cashiers, food service helpers, and maintenance workers as well as experienced retail store associates and store supervisors for the team store. The season at MCU starts June 20th.

Lola Star Boutique, which has locations on the Boardwalk and in Stillwell Terminal, is seeking shift managers in Coney and a studio production manager in Sunset Park.

12th street games

The independently operated games of skill on West 12th Street are seeking game operators for the 2015 season

Related posts on ATZ…

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

December 5, 2014: Wahlburgers Burger Franchise to Open in Coney Island

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

Hearing the Astrotower sing on a cold and windy day is one of the lost pleasures of a Coney Island winter. When the former amusement ride was demolished on July Fourth Weekend in 2013, we not only lost a Coney icon but also one of the world’s most unusual musical instruments.

In this video by Jay Singer, shot in March 2013, the mystical tower sings like an Aeolian harp. Commenters say “Magical. Ethereal.” and “Best soundtrack for a horror movie EVER.” Designed to be played by the wind, an Aeolian harp vibrates and produces an eerie sound.

A search on Youtube turns up a slew of videos of Aeolian instruments including composer Philip Blackburn‘s Wind Harps and Wind Flutes in St. Paul, Minnesota. The quirky environmental sound piece was funded by a $10,000 Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. St. Paul is coincidentally one of the few places that still has an operating Von Roll Tower. The Minnesota State Fair’s Space Tower was installed in 1965, the year after Coney Island’s Astrotower.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2014: Astroland Rocket Finds New Home Beside the Wonder Wheel

July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

July 3, 2013: Long Live Coney Island’s Swaying, Singing Astrotower!

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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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