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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island USA’

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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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 signage

Coney Island signage in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park with Luna Park’s Electro Spin, Air Race and Cyclone in background. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusements officially open for the season in just one day–on Palm Sunday! Freebies abound at the People’s Playground for early birds who relish being among the first as well as for casual visitors all day long.

–The first 100 people on line at both the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel will get a free ride. Rides open after the 11am Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the 11:45am Egg Cream Christening at the Cyclone. For the rest of the day, a ride on the Cyclone, which usually costs $9, will be discounted to $6. At Deno’s, over 200 Coney Island kids from the local Salt and Sea Mission will be treated to free rides, toys and Easter bags. In addition to face-painters and stiltwalkers, Ray Balloons will be on hand to make free balloon animals for visitors and DJ Joe will spin tunes on the Boardwalk.

face-painters, balloon artists, a DJ, and stilt-walkers

–The Coney Island History Project‘s exhibition center, where historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films are on view, offers free admission from 1 till 6pm. Visitors are invited to take free souvenir photos with the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops or an original Steeplechase horse. Next door to the History Project are windows featuring the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always.” “25 cents to laugh. 25 cents to smile.”

Coney Island Always

Coney Island Always. 25 cents To Laugh and Feel Good. West 12th St, Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

–Coney Island USA’s Noisefest is a free event from 2 till 5pm featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll Karaoke with the band Mystical Children and a “Follow the Bouncing Ball Vintage Movie Singalong” by the Museum of Interesting Things.

Rita’s Italian Ice is celebrating the Grand Opening of its Coney Island store by offering free regular size ices to visitors all day Sunday as well as Monday.

The rides at Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado Bumper Cars will continue spinning daily through April 22nd during spring break for New York City’s public schools. For the rest of April and May, the rides will be open weekends until Memorial Day Weekend, when the daily schedule kicks off for the summer.

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February 28, 2014: Photo Album: Wonder Wheel Park Preps for 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 28, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

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Coney Island USA Gala.

Coney Island USA Gala, 2012. Photo © Norman Blake

On Saturday, the Coney Island Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach and an entourage of quirky entertainers take over Webster Hall in Manhattan for Coney Island USA’s Spring Gala. Highlights of the Ides of March party include the mock assassination of Caesar, a Mini-Mermaid Parade, and over 50 performers from go go and burlesque dancers to sideshow sword swallowers and fire eaters. Tickets for the annual fundraiser start at $100. Online ticket sales end Friday, March 14th at 5pm. Tickets at the door at Webster Hall on day of show beginning at 6:30pm.

Coney Island USA Spring Gala 2014, Saturday, March 15th, 7pm – 11pm. Webster Hall, 125 East 11 St, between 3rd and 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

Coney Island USA Gala

Sasha FireGypsy Gaulin at Coney Island USA Gala, 2012. Photo © Norman Blake

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February 19, 2014: Five Coney Island Photographers Whose Work You Should Know

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

November 25, 2013: Coney Island Freak Show-Inspired Beer Takes A New Ride

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

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Rsuh Aaron Hicks

Sideshow performer Rush Aaron Hicks. Photo via Facebook

Black history month is over and guess what? There are people who still don’t know blackface is never okay. Last year, it was Brooklyn State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who wore an afro wig and brown makeup to a Purim party, and whose apologies showed his ignorance. Now New York’s sideshow and burlesque community is in a furor over the news that rubber skin man Rush Aaron Hicks did his act in blackface at the Lower East Side’s Palace of Variety, the Slipper Room, on Friday.

Initially, the performer tried to brush off criticism by posting that he did it “at random” and wasn’t racist because he “slept with two black girls this year,” which only made matters worse and provoked a rebuke on the blog Jezebel. Since then, all posts on his Facebook page that are critical of him, including outraged comments as well as friendly advice from members of New York’s sideshow and burlesque world, are being deleted.

Al G Field Minstrels

Circa 1910 Poster for Minstrel and Vaudeville Comedian Nick Hufford. Al G Field Minstrels, Otis Lithograph Co. Library of Congress Collection

What’s next for this young performer? An apology followed by an assignment to read a few books on the history of blackface and minstrelsy and write a report on what he has learned would be in order. James Habacker, artistic director of the Slipper Room, told ATZ:

The Slipper Room has always been a place that has welcomed diversity. Over the years our stage has been graced by people of every ethnicity, sexual orientation, body type, and proclivity. We do not now, nor will we ever have, a policy of telling artists what they can and can’t do in their acts. Rush Hicks made a poor choice in doing blackface. His unfortunate comments after the fact have only served to make matters worse for him. We had a few bookings with him for this spring, which we have cancelled, to give him time to reflect on his actions and their consequences.

Last season, Hicks was in the cast of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow but his scheduled appearance at the organization’s Gala later this month has been cancelled. Coney Island USA artistic director Dick Zigun told ATZ in an email:

Yes I am aware of this sad controversy. Rush is not currently under contract with CIUSA. His questionable performance took place at the Slipper Room and he was in no way there on behalf of CIUSA . He was scheduled to perform with us in a few weeks and that appearance has been cancelled.

No performer has ever appeared on any CIUSA stage in blackface. Whether or not Rush ever appears with us again will depend on his apologies and actions regarding this incident. I will personally be monitoring his personal and performance statements

William H. West's Big Minstrel Jubilee

Circa 1899 Poster of Carroll Johnson as himself and in blackface. William H. West’s Big Minstrel Jubilee. Strobridge Litho. Co., Library of Congress Collection

The Brooklyn-based performer was born with vascular Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a condition that gives him hypermobile joints and the ability to stretch his skin in the tradition of classic sideshow acts like The Rubber Skin Man and The Elastic Man. Hicks usually appears in whiteface, as seen in photos on his Facebook page. On Friday night at the Slipper Room, after showing up without a costume and white greasepaint, he decided on the spur-of-the-moment to do his act nude and in black makeup, according to a YouTube video which is now “private.”

Despite the furor on social media, Hicks is not without supporters. One friend recommends that Hicks’ critics should “get so excited about police surveillance, NSA encroachment, violent hate crimes, genetic modification of food, pollution, pay inequality and other things that actually call for 700 comments on a Facebook page and an article in Jezebel and others.” Steve Peluso, who produces a show at Lucky 13 Saloon, thinks the controversy will be good for business. As he says on Facebook:

Congratulations Rush Aaron Hicks. You are doing exactly what any good clown should. Playing the fool to expose the foolishness of others. Plus you got LOADS of FREE advertising for yourself, The Slipper Room and every other venue and performer/producer who works with you. Including me!

Thanks for saving me the expense of a full page layout in the Voice for our shows. I’m one of the few producers who understand that in showbiz Controversy like this is simply… GOLD!

The vintage posters shown above are from the Library of Congress’s collection of more than 175 original lithographs documenting the history of 19th and early 20th century minstrel shows.

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

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

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Wonder Moon cCney Island

Wonder Moon in Coney Island, March 26, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

One night last March, as Coney Island’s amusement parks stood dark and silent, a full moon peered over the track of the landmark Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel’s “Thrills” sign. Surf Avenue resident and “street photographer” Bruce Handy was taking his daily photo walk with a friend and brought home this exquisite capture. Beginning on Saturday, “A Stroll Through Coney Island Among Friends,” a photo exhibit featuring the work of five Coney Island photographers and friends who take photos of the People’s Playground year-round on a daily or weekly basis will be on view at Coney Island USA.

Bruce Handy, Jim McDonnell, Norman Blake, Kenny Lombardi and Eric Kowalsky are longtime friends of ATZ and contributors to this blog, so we selected five favorite photos from our archive for this post. You should know the work of these local photographers because in contrast to the many world-renowned photographers, occasional visitors and tourists who are drawn here, they know Coney inside out and in all of its seasons.

Rubys

Rubys Old Tyme Bar and Grill. November 20, 2010. Copyright © Kenny Lombardi 2010. All Rights Reserved

The show’s title should be taken literally as well as metaphorically because these friends are often seen together, cameras in hand, riding the Wonder Wheel at sunset and strolling on the boardwalk and the pier. Bruce Handy and Eric Kowalsky live right across the street from Coney Island’s amusement parks while Jim McDonnell resides a couple of subway stops away. Brooklynites Norman Blake and Kenny Lombardi are official photographers for Coney Island USA, where they take photos of sideshow and burlesque performers and mermaids galore. Norman’s delightfully quirky photos of kite flying on the beach and a sea lion smooch at the Aquarium have appeared on ATZ, as have Kenny’s atmospheric photos of the Boardwalk bars Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s.

Anjelica performing during the opening night party at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival. © 2007 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

Anjelica performing during the opening night party at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival. © 2007 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

As members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, Bruce Handy and Jim McDonnell are among the hardy group who go for Sunday swims from November through April. On the Fourth of July back in 2011, Jim took the amazing shot below of Coney’s beach brimming with colorful umbrellas, which calls to mind photos from the 1930s and ’40s of the beach jam-packed with people, sans umbrellas. Among other notable photos of Jim’s that have appeared on ATZ are his heartbreaking set of images shot the day after Superstorm Sandy struck Coney Island. Jim, who works professionally as a footage guru as well as a photographer for Luna Park, has been compiling a summer’s worth of dance moves into “Coney Island Dancing” videos every September since 2010.

Beach Umbrellas in Coney Island

Beach Umbrellas in Coney Island. July 4, 2011. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Eric Kowalsky, 23, is like a kid brother to the other four photographers, who are in their 40s and 50s. Born and raised in Coney Island, he takes his inspiration from his grandfather Abe Feinstein, who has been documenting Coney Island since he moved to Luna Park Houses with his family in 1962. Among the notable photos by Eric that are posted on ATZ are images of the demolition of Thor Equities-owned Henderson Building and the Bank of Coney Island. On a happier note, two icons of American air and space history meet in Eric’s awesome photo of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flying over the Parachute Jump in 2012.

“A Stroll Through Coney Island Among Friends,” Saturdays and Sundays, February 22 -April 6, 12pm to 5pm. Opening reception on February 22 from noon to 5pm. Coney Island USA Shooting Gallery/Arts Annex, 1214 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

Space Shuttle over Coney Island

Space Shuttle Enterprise Flies Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump. April 27, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

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December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

December 9, 2013: Photo Album: First Snow of the Season in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

September 17, 2013: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

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

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New York Aquarium

Cotton Candy Vendor in front of New York Aquarium. Photo © Tricia Vita

Imagine having a summer job in Coney Island, where you can eat cotton candy for lunch and go for a swim after work. Coney’s amusement parks and attractions, which open for the season on April 13, generally hold their first job screening in late February (Scroll down for an update on registering for this year’s first screenings on March 4th and 6th. The second series of job screenings will be on April 21 and 22.) A few businesses and non-profits are already advertising for year-round and seasonal help.

The New York Aquarium is seeking Teaching Fellows for a 12 week program from June through August. “The WCS Education Department’s Conservation Education Fellowship program is a unique opportunity for current undergraduate students, recent college graduates, and graduate students to explore conservation education,” according to the job description. Fellows teach summer camp programs for children. One year prior teaching experience and educational background in ecology, environmental science or education is preferred. Pay is $12/hr. Check the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Careers page for details.

Coney Island Lifeguard

Coney Island Lifeguard. Photo © Joe Fishman. All Rights Reserved

If you want to be a New York City Parks lifeguard, you’ve got another week to take the qualifying test for the 2014 summer season. The test is being held on January 17th at Abraham Lincoln High on Ocean Parkway. Additional dates and sites in the five boroughs are listed on the “Become a Lifeguard” page of the New York City Parks Department’s website. A Parks spokesman tells ATZ that assignments are by seniority, but lifeguards may request a preferred or convenient location such as Coney Island Beach. Lifeguards work 48 hours per week and earn a minimum of $13.57 per hour for a weekly salary of over $650.

Pool at New Coney Island YMCA

The Coney Island YMCA has a four-lane lap pool and a recreational pool. Photo courtesy YMCA of Greater New York

The beautiful new Coney Island YMCA on Mermaid Avenue opened in December and still has many year-round job openings. They are hiring lifeguards and fitness coaches, as well as instructors of swimming, ballet, tae kwon do, and group exercise. Other positions include property manager, child watch aide and porter. The Coney Island facility houses the largest aquatic center of any YMCA in New York City and offers some pretty nice perks. YMCA part-time and full-time employees receive free individual memberships and are encouraged to use all parts of the facility when they are not working to support a healthy lifestyle. Full-time employees receive a family membership, and part-time employees receive a discount for all family members. Visit the YMCA’s career opportunities page to apply.

lola star

Lola Star Boutique, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita

Lola Star Boutique, which has locations on the Boardwalk and in Stillwell Terminal, is hiring a store manager. “Our sales associates are more like Hosts and Hostesses at a party rather than a conventional sales clerk. We are looking for a store manager that will go above and beyond in maintaining our shops, welcoming guests, managing employees and creating a unique and delightful experience,” says the ad on Craigslist. “You’ll spend your days by the ocean meeting a diverse array of people from all over the world. Everyday is a new adventure! You’ll also be encouraged to express your stylistic individuality. You’ll spend your days by the ocean meeting a diverse array of people from all over the world. Everyday is a new adventure! You’ll also be encouraged to express your stylistic individuality.”

Coney Island Bar & Grill

Coney Island Bar & Grill, Surf Avenue, coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island Bar and Grill, formerly known as Bratva Bar, is on the north side of Surf Avenue near West 12th Street. They’re seeking a cook with at least three years experience as a line or lead line cook who has experience working all stations in the kitchen. “We are looking for someone who is willing to grow with us, share ideas and most of all have a passion for the kitchen,” says their ad. “You must also be very RELIABLE; looking for someone we can count on. Be available for lunch, brunch, late night.”

Across Surf Avenue, arts organization Coney Island USA, which runs Sideshows by the Seashore and the Mermaid Parade, is seeking a Book-keeper/Office Manager with a B.A. in Accounting or Business Management. “Responsibilities include day to day financial management through Quickbooks, running weekly payroll, preparation of financial reports, maintenance of files and overall administrative support for the organization. Experience in the not-for-profit sector preferred.”

UPDATE February 23, 2014:

The Alliance for Coney Island has partnered with HireNYC, Brooklyn Workforce1 and NYC Department of Small Business Services to host this year’s screenings for seasonal jobs in Coney Island. The first round of screenings are for jobs at Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Nathan’s. Among the new employers at the Coney Island job fair will be Rita’s Italian Ice, which is set to open this spring on Surf Avenue. Available positions include Ride and Game Operators, Food and Beverage Service, and Customer Service/Retail Sales. Candidates must register online prior to attending one of the screening events scheduled for Tuesday, March 4th and Thursday, March 6th in Coney Island. More information regarding the available jobs and a link to online registration is available here. You can see a listing of Luna Park’s open positions here.

Coney Island USA

Neon sign at Coney Island USA. Photo © Bruce Handy via flickr

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December 4, 2013: Curator of the Unusual Seeks Sideshow Freaks & Working Acts for 2014

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

February 24, 2012: Summer Jobs: From Coney Island to the Carnival Midway

December 22, 2011: Wanna Be A Coney Island Lifeguard This Summer?

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