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Archive for August, 2013

Rainbow Over Brooklyn Cyclones, Coney Island

Rainbow Over Brooklyn Cyclones, Coney Island. August 19, 2013. Photo © Jim Levine

On August 19, this rainbow surrounded Coney Island’s MCU Park during the Brooklyn Cyclones first game of a double header against the Staten Island Yankees. It brought them good luck. They won the first game. Now the Cyclones are in first place but just barely.

“With just six games left, the Cyclones find themselves 1/2 a game in front of the Aberdeen IronBirds in the race for the McNamara Division title,” according to the team’s website. They’re looking to clinch the title this weekend and go on to the playoffs. The last two home games are Saturday and Sunday, with Beatles-themed fireworks shot off from the stadium after Saturday’s game.

Last night, Cyclones GM Steve Cohen asked the twitterverse to root for Coney Island’s home team:

Thanks to ATZ reader Jim Levine for his photo. Through September 21st, we’ll be posting our favorite photos of the summer.

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August 29, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk

April 16, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Sunset by Bruce Handy

August 31, 2012: Photo of the Day: Electric Eden Revisited By Bruce Handy

April 29, 2012: Photo of the Day: Space Shuttle Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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Beyoncé

Beyoncé riding the Coney Island Cyclone. August 29, 2013. Photo via beyonce-legion.com

Thursday morning’s awesome rumor turned out to be true! Woke up to a phone call from a TV reporter asking if we knew anything about Beyoncé shooting a music video on the Coney Island Cyclone today. A few hours later the chatter on twitter was that she was arriving at 4PM. Uh, make that 5.

Beyoncé and her crew conquered the Cyclone roller coaster before moving on to Coney’s legendary “Bump Your Ass Off” Eldorado Auto Skooters and Arcade. A bit later she was surrounded by adoring fans on the Boardwalk. In Wonder Wheel Park, Beyoncé went for a whirl on the landmark Wheel and the classic Spook-A-Rama dark ride with the music video’s director Terry Richardson.

By 9:30PM, they were heading back for another go at Eldorado, where the music part of the video was being shot and no phone calls or photos were allowed, said a friend who was an extra. The famed disco palace of bumper cars was closed all day for the shoot.

The music video is said to be for a new song called “XO,” which is expected to be released in about 3 months.

Beyoncé

Beyoncé and photographer Terry Richardson riding Spook-A-Rama, Coney Island. August 29, 2013. Photo via beyonce-legion.com

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June 10, 2012: Music Video: Sixteen by The Heavy

January 13, 2012: Music Video: Alan Jackson’s So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore

January 30, 2011: Music Video: The Clash Overpowered by Funk in Coney Island

January 8, 2011: Music Video: Strange Powers by the Magnetic Fields

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Boardwalk at Dusk

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk, July 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

While summer doesn’t officially end until September 21st, Labor Day Weekend is the last Friday night fireworks show of the Coney Island season and the last time the lifeguards will be on duty this year. The rides remain open weekends and school holidays. We’ll be posting our favorite photos of the summer like this one of dusk on the Boardwalk.

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June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 10, 2013: Photo of the Day: Clams on the Half Shell in Coney Island

October 3, 2012: Photo of the Day: The Weekday View from Ruby’s Bar

April 28, 2012: Photo of the Day: Moon Viewing in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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Dairy Princesses

Dairy Princesses. Photo courtesy of the New York State Fair

Worth a trip from anywhere, both the New York State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair opened today for their annual 12-day run. ATZ still has a long way to go before reaching our goal of attending a fair in all 50 states, but we have been to both of these great state fairs. The Syracuse fair is accessible by Greyhound or Amtrak from New York City and has a midway by Strates Shows, founded in 1923 and America’s last carnival still traveling by rail. Minnesota is famous for its carefully curated independent midway and an array of unusual new foods. The two fairs run through Labor Day, September 2nd.

New York State Fair

A special exhibit on the history of the New York State Fair, which opened in 1841 and is America’s first State Fair, debuts this year. Visitors enter via a replica of the columned carriage entrance that was used in the 1900s. Among the artifacts on display are costumes from the early 20th century when the fair closed at dusk and a Mardi Gras parade entertained fair-goers at night, clay models of butter sculptures from the last nine years, and a miniature model of the mighty James E. Strates Midway.

Space Roller

Space Roller, James E Strates Midway at New York State Fair

The Fair’s theme is “Sharing the Bounty and Pride of New York.” New York grown and produced food and beverages will be sampled and sold under the “Taste NY” banner throughout the fair this year. Visitors who stop by locations on the “Taste NY Trail” will be eligible to win prizes. Among the vendors are nine breweries, ten wineries, honey producers, dairies, and organic farmers.

This year’s entertainment includes the Nerveless Nocks Thrill Show; Mutts Gone Nuts Comedy Dog Act; Team Sandtastic’s annual sand castle in the Horticulture Building; the Walker Brothers’ Circus; and Extreme Log Makeover featuring a team of female chain saw carvers.

Special Days: Dairy Day, Beef Day, Veteran’s Day, Women’s Day, Gospel Weekend

Grandstand Shows: Toby Keith, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, All Star Monster Truck Show, NYS Championship Demolition Derby & Double Figure 8 Races

Minnesota State Fair

Space Tower

The Space Tower, built in 1965 and now regarded as one of the landmarks of the fair. Photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

The first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 and moved to its present location between Minneapolis and St Paul in 1889. Among the historic privately owned attractions at the fair are the 1913 Ye Old Mill tunnel of love ride, a Haunted House built by the same designers as Disney’s Haunted Mansion, and the 330-foot Space Tower built in 1965 by the same manufacturer as Coney Island’s Astrotower.

New foods for the 2013 Minnesota Fair were announced in July in plenty of time to whet people’s appetites. Lobster Macaroni & Cheese, Candied Bacon Cannoli and Fried Pickles ‘n’ Chocolate are some of the unusual combos. We’ll have the Craft Beer Battered Onion Rings and the Comet Corn, icy cold caramel corn made with liquid nitrogen, please! A Food Finder on the fair’s website lists 83 different foods on a stick and their locations. Reporters typically review all of the new foods and locals come back day after day to eat their way through the fair.

Sweet Corn Corndog

Sweet Corn Corndog at Campbell’s Flavored Corndogs. Photo coutesy of Minnesota State Fair

This year’s entertainment includes the Giant Singalong, Equimania, The LEGO Road Trip, Canstruction, Krazy Maze, Military Appreciation Day Flyover & Vietnam Era Veterans Parade and Program, and “Ice” Skating on a sheet of synthetic ice.

Grandstand shows: Sheryl Crow, Depeche Mode, 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival presented by Walker Art Center, MSF Amateur Talent Contest Finals and Tim McGraw

Minnesota State Fair

Agriculture Building and Skyride. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair

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July 22, 2013: The World’s Largest Traveling Bonanza Shooting Gallery

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

August 9, 2012: Traveler: Skywheel at the Wisconsin State Fair 2012

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

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Jimmy McCullough

Jimmy McCullough. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

Jimmy McCullough, whose family has operated amusements in Coney Island for four generations, passed away at his home on August 19.

Born in 1929, Jimmy McCullough grew up in Long Island and began working in Coney during World War II in one of the 22 shooting galleries then owned by his grandfather, he told historian Charles Denson in an interview for the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive. He recalled working long hours–until 3, 4, or 5 o’clock in the morning at the family’s amusement attractions.

“Coney Island was the center of our world,” said McCullough, whose great-grandfather was George C Tilyou of Steeplechase Park and whose mother was a Stubbman, a family who operated a beer garden, hotel and carousel where the Aquarium is now.

Jimmy McCullough was also a traveling showman. Along with his daughters Carol and Nancy, he owned and operated such rides as one of the first Zippers ever manufactured, the Round-Up and the Skywheel, which they brought to Toronto’s CNE and booked into fairs as independent ride operators.

Last September, ATZ wrote about the McCullough family’s history in Coney Island when their 50-year-old kiddie park at the Bowery and 12th Street closed after a lease renewal with Thor Equities fell through. The lot has stood vacant ever since Coney Island’s oldest ride operator tore down his Herschell carousel and kiddie rides and left.

Carousel

1912 Charles Carmel Carousel operated by the McCullough family in Coney Island until 1952, when it was moved to Prospect Park. Photo via Coney Island History Project flickr

In the 1950s, the McCullough family had Kiddielands at Surf Avenue and 15th Street and Surf Avenue and 8th Street next to the Cyclone. They also owned and operated three historic carousels in Coney Island which are now in City parks and are their lasting legacy to the people of New York.

The 1912 carousel carved by Charles Carmel, which was at 8th Street, became the Prospect Park Carousel in 1952. The Stubbman Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk, was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park.

The third is the B&B, the last hand-carved wooden carousel in Coney Island, which Jimmy McCullough sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Salzstein. The restored B&B Carousell opened with much fanfare in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza this year.

Services for Jimmy McCullough will be held at William E. Law Funeral Home, 1 Jerusalem Ave, Massapequa, NY on Thursday, August 22, 7-9PM and Friday, August 23, 2-4:30PM and 7-9PM. The funeral will be on Saturday, August 24, at 10AM at Maria Regina R.C. Church, 3945 Jerusalem Ave, Seaford, NY. Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy in his memory are asked to consider a donation to St. Jude’s Hospital or The Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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January 7, 2013: Photo Album: Pieces of Coney Island Skyline in December

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Kiddie Park Getting Squeezed by Thor Equities

June 3, 2009: Coney Island Rides: Tug Boat and Carousel in McCullough’s Kiddie Park

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Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride

Extended through August 29: The Documentary “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride” at IFC Center in the West Village. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

In the waning days of summer, there are two things we suggest you put on your to-do list if you’re in the City. “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride,” Amy Nicholson’s documentary about the rezoning of Coney Island and the City’s standoff with Thor Equities’ Joe Sitt, opened earlier this month at the IFC Center to great reviews. If you haven’t seen it yet, the film has been held over for matinee screenings through August 29. Or see it in LA, beginning August 30. We had a second look at the Coney Island doc after having reviewed the film when it opened at DOCFEST last year. As we wrote last November…

Eddie and his Zipper crew–Don, Joe, Larry and Jerry–are a likeable bunch of guys who cut up jackpots about how far back they go in Coney and with each other. Watching them disassemble the Zipper is heartbreaking, all the more so because in the film, this scene happens as the City Council votes “Aye” on the rezoning that will shrink the amusement zone and allow retail and high rises on the south side Surf Avenue. It’s poetic license because the vote was held in July 2009, two years after the Zipper had left Coney Island. But it is exactly right, because the land remained vacant all that time.

The Zipper site is presently part of Wonder Wheel Way and Scream Zone, which along with Luna Park was built after the City ended the stand-off with Joe Sitt shown in the film and bought 6.9 acres of his land for $95.6 million in November 2009. “It’s a vision offering major new opportunities for retailing and thousands of new housing units,” says Mayor Bloomberg at the City Hall press conference announcing the land deal and the City’s own redevelopment plan for Coney Island.

In the doc, Eddie’s Zipper represents all of the mom-and-pops who were displaced by the real estate speculation that was set off by the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of Coney Island and the rebuilding that followed the City’s purchase of Thor’s land. The names of the businesses, including Batting Cage and Go Kart City, Shoot Out the Star, Shoot the Freak and Steve’s Grill House, are memorialized on the screen in the final credits.

During the Q & A after a recent screening, a couple said they knew the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel were protected because they’re landmarked, but they wanted to know if any other mom-and-pops had survived. They hadn’t been to Coney Island in four or five years!

Grandma's Predictions

Grandma’s Predictions, newly restored 90-year-old fortunetelling machine under the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Go before the end of the summer and help keep the surviving old timers alive and thriving. The good ol’ Coney Island to-do list includes getting your fortune told for 50 cents by Grandma’s Predictions, a 90-year-old arcade machine beneath the 93-year-old Wonder Wheel; clams on the half shell at Paul’s Daughter, the 50-year-old Boardwalk restaurant and clam bar formerly known as Gregory and Paul’s; marshmallow treats and candy apples at the nearly 75-year-old Williams Candy, Coney’s last old school candy store; and a ride on Eldorado Auto Skooters, a 40-year-old disco palace of bumper cars whose motto is “Bump Your Ass Off.”

ATZ also recommends the Coney Island History Project’s exhibit of murals from the demolished Playland arcade; the 25-cents-a-dance “Miss Coney Island” doll and the row of games next door; the restored 1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery at Coney Island USA; Spook-A-Rama, Deno’s classic 1950s Pretzel dark ride renovated post-Sandy; and Ruby’s, Coney Island’s oldest bar, where part of the ceiling is made from 1920s Boardwalk wood, making it one of the only places where you can still walk “Under the Boardwalk.”

Paul's Daughter Coney Island

Clams on the Half-shell at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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May 7, 2013: Video of the Day: Restoration of Grandma’s Predictions

July 17, 2012: 50 Years on Coney Island Boardwalk for Paul & His Daughter

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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sand sculpting

23rd Annual Sand Sculpting Contest, Coney Island. August 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

sand sculpting

Creators of “LOVE PERIOD.” at Sand Sculpting Contest, Coney Island. August 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

sand sculpting

William Sandman Petrosino with his Sculptures at Sand Sculpting Contest, Coney Island. August 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

sand sculpting

Creator of “Michael, the Archangel” at Sand Sculpting Contest, Coney Island. August 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

sand sculpting

Octopus at Sand Sculpting Contest, Coney Island. August 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

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

June 21, 2013: Photo Album: Preview of Parachute Jump LED Lights

June 3, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island’s Indie Game Operators

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