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Archive for July, 2011

At the Beach

At the Beach, Coney Island. July 23, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Today: Sunny and hot. Highs in the lower 90s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Sunday: Sunny. Highs in the upper 80s. Northeast winds around 5 mph…becoming southwest in the afternoon.

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Coney Island Floral Tribute to Andy Badalamenti. July 27, 2011. Photo © Lou Dembrow

At the wake for Coney Island ride maestro Andy Badalamenti, our eyes were drawn to this special floral tribute featuring photos of Coney Island’s Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump and Polar Express. It was sad to say goodbye to Andy, whose casket was adorned with touching photos and mementos from the past. If there’s a midway in heaven, we’re sure he already has “the ex” on the Himalaya. Thanks to photographer Lou Dembrow for this photo and the one below taken on closing day of Jimmy Prince’s Major Meats, Coney Island’s oldest butcher shop, which shuttered after 60 years in 2009.

Andy

Andy Badalamenti with Major Meats sign on closing day at Jimmy Prince's Mermaid Avenue shop. February 28, 2009. Photo © Lou Dembrow

The exquisite floral tributes at the wake also included a rosary with beads made of rosebuds and a horseshoe from Andy’s friends in the NYPD mounted police unit. An honor guard of mounted police kept watch outside the funeral home and an officer stood at attention by the casket. Andy worked for the past 11 years in the stables at Brighton Beach.

Historian and Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson’s moving photographic tribute features many photos with his friend’s beloved horses and cat. Watch for the photo of Andy riding the Steeplechase horse into the clouds as Pavarotti sings the aria “Nessun dorma” from the final act of Puccini’s Turandot.

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July 27, 2011: Coney Island Lost A Good Friend: RIP Andy Badalamenti

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Andy Badalamenti Tries Out the 120-year old chair at the Coney Island History Project, August 29, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island lost a good friend on Monday. Andy Badalamenti, who operated such legendary rides as the Tornado and the Bobsled, and lived in the house under the Thunderbolt roller coaster when he worked as its caretaker, died on Monday after battling cancer. “Coney Island was Andy’s life and obsession,” wrote Charles Denson, in a moving tribute to his friend, who is featured in his books “Coney Island: Lost and Found” and “Wild Ride: A Coney Island Roller Coaster Family.”

“Andy grew up working in Coney Island. He possessed a pure devotion to whatever ride he worked on and the people he worked for,” Denson writes in “Wild Ride.” When the Tornado roller coaster was set afire by arsonists in 1977, Andy climbed to the top and stood beneath the Christmas cross screaming “We’re gonna fix it! The Tornado will be back!” But the coaster was doomed. “The image of Andy Badalamenti high atop the smoldering ruins of the historic roller coaster, triumphant and defiant, promising rebirth, remains a part of Coney Island folkore,” writes Denson.

This photo of Andy Badalamenti trying out a 120-year-old chair from Feltman’s Maple Garden Restaurant was taken at the Coney Island History Project on August 29, 2008. Astroland was set to close forever on the next weekend. After winning a one-year reprieve, many of us felt despondent about not being able to save the park again. But Andy wasn’t about to give up hope. He had dreams of moving the rides a few blocks away and was busily talking up the idea. His eyes always glittered when he smiled.

The 120-year-old chair had a sign telling people not to sit on it, but if anyone had earned the right to sit on a Coney Island museum piece it was Andy Badalamenti. Rest in peace, Andy. Coney Island will miss you.

The wake will be at 2-5pm and 7-9pm on July 27 and 28 at Cusimano and Russo Funeral Home, 2005 W. 6th St at Avenue T, in Brooklyn. The funeral will be at 9:45am on Friday, July 29, at the Church of Saints Simon and Jude, 185 Van Sicklen St at Avenue T.

Andy Badalamenti

Andy Badalamenti with Louise Bonsignore, whose family owned and operated the Bobsled, at the Coney Island History Project. September 8, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

July 29, 2011: Photo Album: Coney Island Tribute to Andy Badalamenti

May 19, 2011: Rest in Peace: Rabbi Abraham Abraham’s Synagogue Was the Beach

October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

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