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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island USA’

Coney Island Mermaid Parade

2014 Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Photo © Norman Blake. all Rights Reserved

Happy Mermaid Day! Today is the 33rd Annual Mermaid Parade produced by non-profit arts org Coney Island USA. America’s largest art parade is worth the trip from anywhere. If you plan to march as a mermaid or other sea creature, or simply watch it from the curb or the boardwalk, we recommend getting here early, say 11:00am. To avoid traffic jams, take the D, F, N or Q train to Stillwell Avenue and leave your car at home unless it’s one of the vintage cars in the Parade.

The Mermaid Parade starts rolling down Surf Avenue at 1:00pm, but parade-goers can also take photos in the staging area on West 21st Street from 10:30am till 12:30pm, for a fee of $20. Check out our post from last year, Fave Spots to Photograph Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade (ATZ, June 19, 2014).

Although the Mermaid Parade is free to watch, it costs a lot of clams to produce, say the folks at Coney Island USA, who are trying a new method of fundraising this year. Fans of the Parade are being asked to text MERMAID to 91999 and make a donation. Everyone who makes a text donation of $20 or more on the day of the Parade will be entered into a raffle for 5 pairs of tickets to one of several Off Broadway shows.

There will be no Mermaid Ball this year due to lack of a suitable venue. Make your own after-party by patronizing Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Freak Bar, and the Coney Island businesses sponsoring the Parade including Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island Brewing Company, Coney Island Smorgasburg, Dona Zita, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Gyro Corner, Paul’s Daughter, Peggy O’Neills, Ruby’s Bar and Williams Candy Shop.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 18, 2015: Photo Album: Making Mulch & Chainsaw Art from Recycled NYC Trees in Coney Island

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

June 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra Opening the Ocean

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Power Surge

Power Surge returns to Coney Island opened for business on Memorial Day Weekend. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Zamperla’s Power Surge, one of the ride manufacturer’s signature rides, opened at Coney Island’s Luna Park over Memorial Day Weekend. The big surprise is that we’re told it’s the very same ride that debuted in Astroland in 2001! As ATZ previously reported, when the Power Surge first came to Coney’s Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001, its photo was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. The ride remained in Astroland until 2006 when it was sold to Australia. Zamperla bought it back and refurbished it.

Located in Luna Park’s Scream Zone against the back wall of the Boardwalk Nathan’s, the scream machine was awhirl for most of the weekend. The Power Surge is not the only Astroland ride to come home to Coney Island. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park brought back and refurbished Astroland’s Scrambler and Barbieri Bumper Cars, and together with the Coney Island History Project, the historic 1962 Astroland Rocket.

Arcade

Over Memorial Day Weekend, Arcade Replaces Rainbow Shop in Thor Equities Building. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Friday we were delighted to find out that Coney Island has one less chain store and one more arcade. Rainbow Shops, a retail chain featuring discount clothing and shoes, will NOT be returning for a third season to Thor Equities retail building in Coney. Gordon Lee of Eldorado Arcade has moved arcade machines into the 2,500 square foot space, which still has the word Rainbow over its door.

It’s surprising news because until last July, Thor’s retail building flaunted two ARCADE signs but no arcades, despite the fact that 15% of amusement frontage was required by zoning regulations to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy from the City. For a long time, it was one of our pet peeves. ATZ wrote about this sham here and again here. Now the two mini-arcades, the minimum required by Bloomberg’s rezoning of Coney Island for this building, have an actual arcade to keep them company.

mini arcade

One of two mini arcades installed in July 2014 at Thor Equities retail building at Surf and Stillwell. May 27, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

We’re sad to report that Coney Island USA’s 1940s Shooting Gallery at 1214 Surf Avenue has been closed. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the nonprofit arts organization is offering the 3,500 square foot Shooting Gallery Arts Annex building for lease at $50 square foot or approximately $175,000 per year. “When a lease is signed we will return it to Deno’s,” Coney Island USA’s Dick Zigun told ATZ. “Until then it might reopen if we can afford machine gun maintenance.”

Made in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the vintage shooting gallery is the only publicly operating one of its kind that we’re aware of. The gallery restored by Coney Island USA in 2013 is on loan from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, where it had operated for decades next to Spook-A-Rama and was uncovered during post-Sandy renovations.

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery, Coney Island USA. August 3, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers who sell the targets individually. It brought an authentic, old-timey ambiance to Surf Avenue that will be missed.

CIUSA bought Denny’s ice cream shop and building next door to their headquarters in 2012 for $1.3 million. Unfortunately, Denny’s was one of the first casualties of Superstorm Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area. The building had to be gutted and at first there was talk of replacing the ruined ice cream machines with a paintball game, mini-golf or a roller rink. What will it house next?

When Coney Island USA bought the building, Dick Zigun told ATZ: “Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel.

Shooting Gallery

Shooting Gallery building at 1214 Surf Avenue. May 26, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

May 19, 2015: Gargiulo’s Russo Brothers to Open Italian Fast Food on Surf Avenue

May 6, 2015: New Owner of Surf Ave Lot Across from Coney Island Cyclone Seeks Ideas for Seasonal Use

April 7, 2015: Coney Island Area’s 1st Hotel in Decades to Open This Summer

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

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Miss Colombia

Miss Colombia and Friends in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusement parks kicked off the Memorial Day Weekend on Friday and starting now through Labor Day are open daily. Beach season begins on Saturday when the lifeguards return to their chairs for the summer. ATZ’s personal must-see-and-do list this weekend includes taking photos, having the first lobster roll of the year and a cold beer at Paul’s Daughter on the Boardwalk, peering through an antique stereoviewer at the Coney Island History Project’s exhibit of stereoview photography, checking out the street art-in-progress at Coney Art Walls, taking more photos, and singing Happy 95th Birthday to the Wonder Wheel, which opened on Memorial Day in 1920. One thing we’ve yet to experience in Coney Island is boredom, but tonight at Coney Island USA, we look forward to seeing Dick Zigun’s play “Boredom,” adapted from Maxim Gorky’s essay about his trip to the Electric Eden in 1904. As the original intro to the essay wisely noted: “What is seen depends upon the eye that sees it.” Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Related posts on ATZ…

May 18, 2015: Zamperla’s Power Surge Set to Make A Coney Island Comeback

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

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

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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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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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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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