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Archive for December, 2009

Last year at this time, we were mourning the loss of Coney Island’s Astroland Park and tending a little shrine on Astroland’s Boardwalk Gates. Here’s a look back at the Astroland Gate on New Year’s Day 2009 by Livvvvvvv via YouTube. The children’s voices are poignant…

The memorial began the day after Christmas with our handmade collage, a friend’s bouquet of flowers and a banner of a tightrope dancer. Two days later, we learned the collage had been stolen, its plastic fasteners cut. When the black ink on the banner bled in the rain, photographer Bruce Handy said the ballerina was weeping. But the shrine grew to include photos, banner painter Marie Roberts’ paintbrush (symbolizing a fresh start), beads, a paper mache mask, and a cane. The flowers remained in place through opening day of Coney Island’s 2009 season.

On January 1, 2010, we’ll be in Coney Island as usual to celebrate the New Year with the multitude of friends and strangers who come for the Polar Bear Club Swim. No, we’re not swimming, but we’re sponsoring a Bear who is Freezin’ for a Reason and you can, too. It’s for a good cause–they’re raising funds for Camp Sunshine.

We’d like to decorate the gate with a few photos, too. In addition to memorializing the good times at Astroland, we want to let visitors know that Coney Island is not closed! On Palm Sunday (March 28, 2010), the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Coney Island Sideshow and other Coney Island businesses open for the season. By Memorial Day Weekend, the former Astroland site will be home to a yet-to-be-designated amusement operator‘s rides and attractions. We anticipate nothing less than a spectacular summer season. Happy New Year Everyone! Happy New Year to Coney Island!

Kris Kringle's Cane

Miracle on the Boardwalk: Kris Kringle's Cane on the Astroland Shrine. January 2, 2009. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 23, 2009: The Contenders from A to Z: Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP

September 2, 2009: The Sad Anniversary of Coney Island’s Astroland Going Dark

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

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

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Here’s a front seat view from Coney Island’s long-vanished Shoot-the-Chutes (1895-1944), originally built for Sea Lion Park. Our friends at Clicksypics have transformed a 1904 Underwood & Underwood stereo card of “Brilliant Luna Park at Night, Coney Island, New York’s great pleasure resort” into an animation of Coney Island’s Electric Eden. By 1907, Luna Park was illuminated by 1,300,000 incandescent bulbs at a cost of $5,600 a week. What a holiday light display it would be today!

Luna Park

Luna Park at Night Stereo Card Animation

“I came up with this idea on a whim, I don’t know that it’s been done before, I just knew that I had never seen any,” says the stereo animation’s creator. For the full collection and information about how these wiggle pictures are made, visit Clicksy’s weblog.

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January 5, 2013: Saturday Matinee: A Peep Show on the Mutoscope Machine

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

January 8, 2012: Video of the Day: Coney Island at Night by Edwin S. Porter

August 16, 2011: Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island

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Which would you rather see this summer in Coney Island? Row upon row of permanently parked yellow school buses? Or Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus’s Illuscination under the Big Top? We thought so…

Today, Ringling’s magical new show starring “thrillusionist” David DaVinci, an aviary of macaws, doves, and free flying parrots, a trio of Italian clowns, and much more will premiere in West Palm Beach. Stay tuned for our upcoming preview of the show. Come summer, Feld Entertainment is expected to bring the Gold Tour #4 to Coney Island after the successful 12-week run of their Coney Island Boom-A-Ring in 2009.

“I was down in Florida for rehearsals of the new Gold Unit last week and I have to tell you – it’s spectacular!” says Steve Yaros, Vice President, Event Marketing & Sales, Northeast Region at Feld Entertainment. Yaros has been working with Taconic Investment Partners to secure the lot at 21st and Surf where Ringling raised its blue and yellow striped tent last summer. ATZ had heard the circus performers were telling friends they’ll be in Coney over the summer. Come visit! When we asked Yaros, he said a deal has yet to be made.

“They are still looking for a place to relocate the buses that are currently there. It would be a shame if yellow buses replace The Greatest Show On Earth on Coney Island this summer,” says Yaros. “But I’m optimistic we will figure out a solution soon. It’s Feld Entertainment’s sincere desire to return to Coney Island in 2010 and continue the summertime tradition we started last year. So please keep your fingers crossed and send us positive vibes.”

“BUS: Coney Island is also a holding zone for every school bus on earth.” August 25, 2008. Photo © gtranbot via flickr

We’re optimistic, too. Last summer’s Coney Island Boom A Ring brought The Greatest Show On Earth back under “The Big Top” for the first time since 1954 and attracted over 160,000 visitors in its first year in Coney Island. The Coney Island community–those of use who live or work here–are of course thrilled to have Ringling return with a new show. The circus folk were great neighbors and partners in helping us publicize the fact that Coney Island is Really Fun and Really Open.

We’re optimistic since Ringling wants to come back and Mayor Bloomberg wants the circus back and the Mayor is known for getting things done. “The City is looking forward to a vibrant summer in Coney Island in 2010, and we hope that the Ringling Brothers Circus will be part of it,” says Libby Langsdorf, assistant vice president for public affairs at New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC).

If ever there was a time to end the school bus parking blight in the People’s Playground, it’s now. There are already too many pix of yellow buses popping up in visitors’ flickr sets of Coney Island. If you think we’re exaggerating, take a look. Visitors wonder why all the school buses on earth are parked there. It’s a surprising thing to see in the heart of Coney Island, so they snap a picture. Memories are made of this. There are actually two bus lots–one on property owned by Thor Equities adjacent to Nathan’s and one further west on Taconic’s property. Let’s exile the buses on Thor’s property while we’re at it and replace them with….rides!

Coney Island School Bus Depot

“I remember Coney Island. Coney Island School Bus Depot in the rain.” May 17, 2009. Photo © Matto Fredriksson/mattogbg via flickr

The unamusing buses have long term leases to park on the empty lots despite the fact that the area was zoned for amusements. The photographers’ captions say it all: A bus station, a school bus graveyard, Coney Island School Bus Depot and School Bus School Bus School Bus School Bus School Bus School Bus. If anyone knows of an empty lot where the throng of school buses can go on permanent vacation from Coney Island, please let us know! Or better yet, let the City know. See you at the circus!

UPDATE April 7, 2010:

Goodbye school buses! Hello Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey! It’s finally official: Feld Entertainment issued a press release today announcing The Coney Island Illuscination. The show will run from June 17 through September 6, 2010.

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August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination

May 20, 2010: Trivia Contest! Win VIP Circus Tickets to Coney Island Illuscination

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

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