Taking Souvenir Photos at Astroland on Opening Day of the Season. March 16, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr
Coney Island’s traditional Opening Day is Palm Sunday, which also happens to be April 1st this year. We’re celebrating the occasion with a look back at favorite photos of Opening Day beginning with 2008. In that year, Palm Sunday fell early–on March 28th–and State Senator Diane Savino gamely joined the hula-hooping party on West 10th Street.
Senator Diane Savino hula hoops at Astroland's opening day celebration. March 16, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr
Opening Day is a time for Coney Island aficionados and friends to take the first souvenir pictures of the season, go for a first spin on Coney’s rides and win the first prize of the year. It’s a day for elected officials who represent the neighborhood to preside over the ceremonial openings of the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel and for local boosters to show their pride.
Boy wins his first prize of the 2009 season at Water Race Game on Jones Walk. April 5, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr
This Sunday’s festivities begin at 11 am with the 34th Annual Blessing of the Rides by Pastor Debbie Santiago of Coney Island’s Salt N Sea Mission at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Free entertainment by face painters, clowns, stilt walkers and DJ Joe follows the ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by park owners Dennis and Steve Vourderis. Children from the mission receive free rides, lunch and Easter baskets full of toys. The first 100 people on line for the Wonder Wheel get to ride the landmark wheel for half price.
Pastor Debbie Santiago, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Dennis Vourderis and Borough President Marty Markowitz at Blessing of the Rides at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. March 28, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr
At 12 noon, the Cyclone Roller Coaster opens for the season with the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the first car on the ride’s platform. After dignitaries and guests go for the first ride, the first 100 people on line ride the Cyclone for free. The landmark coaster’s first drop was rebuilt this winter, so it will be interesting to hear what the Cyclone’s fans have to say. Following the ceremony at the Cyclone, the rides at Luna Park and Scream Zone open for the season.
Borough President Marty Markowitz Breaking Bottle of Egg Cream with Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani at Cyclone's Opening Day Ceremony March 28, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr
While most of the Boardwalk stores, including Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, are undergoing renovations and Zamperla’s new go karts and Sky Coaster aren’t slated to open till May, there is one new ride to try on Opening Day. The Astroland bumper cars have returned to Coney Island and their new home is Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.
Coney’s 61 rides and diverse attractions will be open on April 1st from 12 noon till around 8 pm, weather permitting. On West 12th Street under the Wonder Wheel, the Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center opens at 12 noon. The Coney Island Polar Bears go for their weekly swim at 1 pm and Coney Island USA’s annual Noisefest gets underway at 2 pm.
Thanks as always to ATZ friend and contributing photographer Bruce Handy for his photos of Coney Island’s Opening Day.
Zoltar Speaks joins Grandma's Predictions Under the Wonder Wheel on Opening Day 2011. March 28, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr
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