Archive for November, 2013

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump Lit at Dusk. October 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

When the Parachute Jump’s dazzling new 8,000 LEDs debuted in June, Luna Park CEO Valerio Ferrari told ATZ the tower would be lit whenever the park was open. One of the things we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving is that after the park closed for the season at the end of October, the landmark tower’s light show has continued nightly. Photographers are jumping for joy. Coney Island’s Bruce Handy, whose photos are featured in this album, shoots the lighted Jump almost as frequently as he does sunsets.

Although there’s been no official announcement from the Parks Department or Luna Park, the unofficial word on the Boardwalk is the Jump is going to be lit year-round. This is exactly right considering the City’s stated goal ever since Mayor Bloomberg announced the Strategic Plan for the Future of Coney Island in 2005 has been to “transform the area into a year-round entertainment destination.”

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump. November 4, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

The Parachute Jump lights the way to Coney Island for visitors. Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower is visible from as far away as the Verrazano Bridge on the Belt Parkway. You can spot it from planes flying in and out of JFK. One of Bruce’s friends has taken photos of the Jump lights from his 37th floor of his office in lower Manhattan. “I also see it from the 71st St elevated D train platform,” says Bruce. “I’m sure it’s visible from the cruise ships leaving NY harbor every night and returning every morning at sunrise.” Currently, the Parachute Jump is lit nightly from 4:30pm until midnight or later (with the exception of random days when its timer is on the blink). Here’s hoping the Jump will remain lit year-round like the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam before you go.

Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase, Coney Island’s world-famous amusement park, which closed forever in 1964. The pier and the Jump tower are the sole survivors of the park that once billed itself “Coney Island’s Only Funny Place, Where 25,000 People Laugh at One Time.”

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump from Steeplechase Pier. November 4, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy


Related posts on ATZ…

October 30, 2013: Photo Album: Four Transformations, One Year After Sandy

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

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

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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Mrooklyn Community Services

Maxim Kornev’s mural, the winner of the ‘Community’ theme for the Brooklyn Community Services mural contest honoring Coney Island after the storm

The winner of the “Community” theme for Brooklyn Community Services’ mural contest honoring Coney Island after Superstorm Sandy is Max Kornev. The work of the 27-year-old artist, who grew up in the neighborhood, will brighten a wall at BCS’s new offices on Mermaid Avenue. Kornev’s design juxtaposes the Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump, Steeplechase Funny Face and a ginormous mermaid with sea gulls carrying letters that spell BCS and Coney Islanders lining up behind beach umbrellas.

Founded in 1866, Brooklyn Community Services has offices throughout the borough. In Coney Island, BCS is working in collaboration with Astella Development Corp. and Coney Recovers to assist Brooklyn residents affected by the storm. According to the organization’s website, BCS is “providing short and long-term relief, recovery services, and assistance including benefits assistance, mental health and family counseling, clothing, support and guidance around entitlements, and essential furnishings.” For information about making a donation or getting involved as a volunteer, visit WeAreBCS.org.


Related posts on ATZ…

November 5, 2013: Ghost Signs on Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue

October 28, 2013: Photo Album: Banksy Brings His Robot to Coney Island

March 5, 2013: Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue Four Months After Sandy

June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

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Freak Bar

Coney Island Lager- Old and New Labels– and Coney Island Albino Python at Coney Island USA’s Freak Bar. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

When Shmaltz’s line of award-winning Coney Island Craft Lagers were launched in 2008, a trio of Coney Island USA sideshow performers were immortalized on the labels and played a part in the marketing campaign. “It just made perfect sense to include the performers,” said the brewery’s owner Jeremy Cowan in an interview with the Daily News at the time. “A portion of every bottle and every pint will go toward updating their building and keeping the spirits of Coney Island alive.”

Last week, at a bar in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the re-branded line was launched with new graphics and a new slogan: “Take the next ride with the Coney Island Brewing Company.” Cowan sold Shmaltz’s Coney Island beers in August to Alchemy and Science, a subsidiary of Boston Beer Co., which produces Samuel Adams, in a deal said in the press to be worth $2.9 million.

A new brewery and tasting room is planned at a yet-to-be decided location in Brooklyn, to replace their “World’s Smallest Brewery,” which had free space in Coney Island USA’s building until it got washed away by Sandy. But the non-profit arts organization that produces the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and other popular events is not a partner on the next ride.

Coney Island Brewery

Coney Island Brewing Co Launch Party at the Brass Monkey, November 18, 2013. Photo via Coney Island Brewing Facebook

“That agreement expired 19 months ago,” said Cowan, when ATZ asked him what the brand’s involvement with Coney Island has been since it was sold and their plans for the future. According to the terms of the sale, Cowan is still brewing some of the beers at Shmaltz’s brewery in upstate New York and advising A&S on Coney Island matters for at least five years. “I’ll be the liaison with the Alliance for Coney Island and the neighborhood and I’m still president of the NYC Brewers Guild.”

Last year after Sandy, Cowan organized a fundraiser by the nonprofit Guild at Brooklyn Brewery in which several breweries participated, raising $10,000 divided equally among three organizations –Rockaway Surf Club, Red Hook Initiative, and Coney Recovers. The Coney Island Brewing Company is a member of the one-year-old Alliance for Coney Island, which functions as a sort of Chamber of Commerce for businesses in the neighborhood and launched Coney Recovers to raise funds for the community after Sandy.

Coney Island Beer Taps

New Coney Island Brewing Co. Taps Mimic the Parachute Jump. Launch Party at the Brass Monkey in the Meatpacking District. November 18, 2013. Photo via Coney Island Brewing Facebook

Asked how much the new Coney Island Brewing Company plans to contribute to Coney Island and with whom it will forge partnerships, Cowan said, “Well, I don’t think they even know that right now and it’s probably something they can’t give a dollar amount to.”

The new owners also haven’t decided yet what to do with all of the brands. “Nothing is absolutely final but it’s kind of a mad dash to make the transition so they have a new logo for the brewing company,” says Cowan. “Mermaid Pilsner is the flagship. We’re still making Coney Island lager with our proprietary Funny Face that Dave Wallin did for me, changing some of the graphics around it, but that will still be available for sale on draft in the city.”

The new graphics feature Coney’s landmark Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump amid a towering glass of Coney Island beer. There’s also a gorgeous new mermaid in the surf and the beer’s trademark Funny Face looks a bit less freaky without his facial tattoos. And the newly designed taps for draft beer mimic Coney Island’s Parachute Jump.

New graphics on display

New graphics on display at Brass Monkey Launch Party, November 18, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the time of the sale, new owner Alan Newman of A & S told Brewhound, “The goal is to broaden out the brand so it represents more than just the freak show and isn’t so scary,” he said. “We want to celebrate the amusement park, the beach, the boardwalk, the hot dogs and all of the things that make Coney Island interesting.”

Newman grew up in Long Island, and as a kid came to Coney Island when he was a teenager. “They want to make it wonderful and exciting and continue on with the project that we started,” Cowan tells ATZ. Alan Newman is also the author of “High on Business: The Life, Times, and Lessons of a Serial Entrepreneur” and the grand wizard of a brewery-sponsored annual Mardi Gras parade in Burlington, Vermont, where he lives.

Among the new beers that will be introduced are “Seas the Day,” an Indian pale lager with a Zoltar-like fortuneteller gracing the label and “Tunnel of Love,” described as “Watermelon Wheat” and featuring a couple seated in a romantic swan carriage on its label.

Coney Island Brewing Co

Posters for Coney Island Beer on display at Brass Monkey Launch Party, November 18, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

According to the Boston Business Journal, Boston Beer projected that it spent $3-$5 million on Alchemy & Science in 2012, the division’s first year, and expects to spend another $2-$4 million this year. A&S has also acquired L.A.’s Angel City Brewery, launched the Traveler Beer Co., and is developing the Just Beer brand after buying that name from another brewery. Boston Beer executives warned investors that the Alchemy & Science budget could increase again, and it’s not clear when A&S’s revenue will surpass its expenses, the story noted.

Meanwhile, the Coney beers are still sold at Coney Island USA’s Freak Bar, as Dick Zigun recently noted on twitter, when a follower called for a boycott after realizing Coney Island Brewing is no longer donating money from sales. “Such discussion is premature,” replied the Coney Island USA founder and Unofficial Mayor of Coney Island. Dick Zigun tweeted: “I’ve suggested no such thing-still serving it!” In response to a request for a quote for this story about Coney Island USA’s relationship with Coney Island Lager, Zigun sent an email: “I am restricted from commenting at this time.” (Update: On April 11th, the eve of Coney Island’s Opening Weekend, Zigun posted in reply to a question about the on the Coney Island Message Board: “The Freak Bar is open and serving…we are not (currently) serving the ‘specialty brands’ while we quietly try and resolve a legal dispute.”)

Coney Island Beer Posters

Posters at Coney Island USA’s Freak Bar. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The beer is also sold in Coney Island at Ruby’s Bar, Paul’s Daughter, Applebee’s, Nathan’s, Tom’s, Peggy O’Neills, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, says Cowan. “You can buy it in most places but we’re still a little company trying to compete with Coors Light and Budweiser. Six of every ten beers is a Budweiser product and in Coney Island Corona and Coors Light are monster brands, so trying to compete in some of those accounts to drink our beer instead is a real challenge.”

To that end, Cowan has done tastings and co-marketing with some of the Coney Island establishments. Next fall, during the shoulder season, he hopes to kick off an Oktoberfest-type of event in conjunction with the Alliance.

As for the new brick-and-mortar Coney Island Brewing Company, where small batches would be brewed, it may not even be in Coney Island. Cowan says they haven’t finalized where it’s going to be. “We’re looking in all of Brooklyn. We’d love to locate it in Coney Island if possible, but as you know it’s a very tricky place to find real estate. There are about four or five people who own the real estate in Coney Island, so they set the rents. If we find a way to work with them that’s fantastic. And there’s issues for us. Specifically, the infrastructure in Coney Island still needs to continue to be upgraded for utilities and sewer and water, basic needs of a small business and certainly a small manufacturing business.”

Mermaid Pilsner

Mermaid Pilsner – the New and the Old. Coney Island Brewing Company. Photo via Coney Island Brewery Facebook


Related posts on ATZ…

October 20, 2013: Photo Album: Four Transformations, One Year After Sandy

January 31, 2012: Remnant of Under Boardwalk Bar Found in Coney Island

October 11, 2011: Photo of the Day: Butterflies & Beer Island by Bruce Handy

May 11, 2010: 21st Century Bars: Coney Island’s Freak Bar Featured in New Book

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Rutland Fair Sideshow

Rutland, Vermont Fair Sideshow, 1941. Photo by Jack Delano for the U.S. Farm Security Administration Collection, Library of Congress

Among the more than 200,000 images of rural life by photographers working for the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration during the New Deal are hundreds of images of the American sideshow. Taken by Ben Shahn, Jack Delano, and Russell Lee at state and county fairs in Vermont, Ohio, Louisiana and Texas, the photos document the midway shows of the late 1930s and early ’40s and their glorious banners.

Millard and Bulsterbaum banner

Sideshow attraction, county fair in central Ohio, 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

The two banners seen above–Human Freaks and Personality Fat Girl are the work of the Coney Island studio of Millard & Bulsterbaum. The firm’s name and address — 2894 W 8th Street — can be seen in the lower right corner of the banners. “Just one more bolt of cloth will make it,” says a tailor depicted fitting the glamorous fat girl with a new costume. Algernon Millard and John Bulsterbaum, who were in business from 1915 though the Depression, were considered the best in the business.

cat with 6 paws

Rutland, Vermont Fair Sideshow, 1941. Photo by Jack Delano for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

This banner for a 28-toed cat and a cat with six paws was part of a banner line also featuring sea gull ducks, midget mules, a pop-eyed cow, and a “Charlie Chaplin chicken.”

Ohio Fair Sideshow Attraction

Sideshow attraction, county fair in central Ohio, 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

In this nicely framed shot by Ben Shahn of a homemade front for the single-o “Ramo- 4 horns, 3 tails,” a weird, alligator-like creature appears on the bally stage.

Nudist Colony Banner

Sideshow attraction, county fair in central Ohio, 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

After a sideshow promoter made Zorine, Queen of the Nudists and the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony the sensation of San Diego’s 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition, imitators sprang up on carnival and fair midways. This banner for the “Nudist Colony” at a county fair in Ohio asks “Are they ever ashamed?” Shows featuring talkers and inside lecturers dressed as nurses and doctors helped explain the wonders and mysteries of medical science in the days before television and the Internet. Step right up to the College of Hygiene Science!

sideshow banner 1939

Sign at sideshow at Gonzales, Texas county fair, 1939. Photo by Russell Lee for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress


Related posts on ATZ…

November 7, 2013: Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair November 4, 2012: Up for Auction: Ringling Bros Circus Side Show Poster May 4, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Major Debert the Tiniest Man’s Sideshow Banner

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Purple coneflower

Purple coneflower on W 12th St in Coney Island. November 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

On West 12th Street off the Boardwalk, the tables and chairs of Dreamland Plaza are packed away for the winter, but purple coneflowers are blooming in the planters. The botanical name is Echinacea -yes, it is the medicinal plant used to make herbal tea.


Related posts on ATZ…

October 1, 2013: Photo of the Day: Cotton Candy Vendor

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

August 1, 2012: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Sunflower

March 4, 2012: Photo of the Day: Cherry Blossoms on Wonder Wheel Way

Read Full Post »

Mickey Mouse

1928-29 Mickey Mouse movie poster. Photo via TheHistoryBlog.com

Happy 85th birthday, Mickey Mouse! On November 18, 1928, the world’s most famous mouse made his debut in Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie at New York City’s Colony Theatre. Tonight, Film Forum is celebrating the occasion with a special “Disney Mouse Party” at 7pm. The program of rare 35mm prints from the Disney archive includes early b&w comedy classics (1928-1933) such as Puppy Love, Blue Rhythm, The Gorilla Mystery, and Building a Building, plus a bonus sing-a-long; Technicolor breakthroughs from 1936-1941 like Thru the Mirror, Mickey’s Trailer, Mickey’s Rival, and Nifty Nineties; plus what’s being billed (in all caps) as “AN ASTOUNDING SNEAK PREVIEW.” Could it be Potatoland, which is set to premiere today?

The Disney Channel will debut the new seven-minute cartoon titled Potatoland as part of a day of programming honoring Mickey Mouse’s birthday. The comedic film takes Mickey, Donald and Goofy on a road trip to Idaho to fulfill Goofy’s dream of visiting Potatoland theme park.

Being a carny kid, our favorite Mickey Mouse cartoon is The Karnival Kid from 1929 in which Mickey is a hot dog vendor at a carnival and Minnie is a shimmy dancer. It’s famous for being the first film in which Mickey talks but his voice is actually that of Walt Disney. Mickey yells “Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs!” Watch what happens when Minnie bites into a very animated frank…


Related posts on ATZ…

March 3, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Bluto & Popeye, Kings of Coney’s Mardi Gras

April 6, 2011: Made in Coney: TV Commercial for Bonomo Turkish Taffy

January 15, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

November 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Harpo Marx

Read Full Post »

Coney Island Mama Cat and Kittens

This Coney Island Mama Cat is Snow Coney’s mother. She and her new kittens are in immediate need of a foster home. Can you help? November 15, 2013. Photo by Amusing the Zillion

Did you know that Disneyland is home to a managed colony of 200 feral cats who dine at five discreet feeding stations and receive medical care in exchange for keeping the resort rodent free? Since the weather turned colder, our thoughts have been with the abandoned, stray and feral cats of Coney Island, who are on their own. Discussion ensued with Carolyn McCrory, who works in the amusement area, and Dianna Carlin of Lola Star Boutique about launching a group to help the Coney cats. Maybe we could raise funds for prefab cat shelters, organize a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, and find foster homes for the kittens?

We all have pets but no experience as caretakers of homeless cats and are just learning what’s involved. Dianna, who has fostered and helped find homes for three dogs rescued by PJ McKosky of Empty Cages Collective, said he would help. Yesterday, thoughts suddenly turned to action when a very sick white cat, whom we’ve named “Snow Coney,” had to be rushed to the vet who works with Empty Cages.

Coney Island Cat Rescue

Yesterday in Coney Island: Snow Coney the Cat En Route to Vet. November 15, 2013. Photo by Amusing the Zillion

Snow Coney cried in the car, but the fact that he started purring for the vet’s assistant made us feel optimistic. However, Dr. Jill Caruso of Faithful Friends Animal Hospital said Snow Coney was very seriously ill and today we learned he is much sicker than we thought. He had to be rushed to intensive care in another hospital to receive a blood transfusion. The symptoms suggest the cat ingested rat poison.

Donations to cover the cost of Snow Coney’s care, which is rapidly adding up, can be sent to Empty Cages Collective. Questions about volunteering to foster or adopt the other Coney Island cats can be sent to PJ McKosky as well.

Coney Island Cat

Snow Coney at Faithful Friends Animal Hospital. November 15, 2013. Photo by Empty Cages Collective

The mama cat in the photo at the top of this post is a former house cat who is Snow Coney’s mother. We are seeking a foster home for this cat and her kittens after they receive veterinary care.

Since ATZ began covering Coney Island in 2009, the cat colonies have been pushed farther west by the dismantling of Astroland and the demolition of vacant buildings such as the Henderson and the Playland Arcade. In 2010, we wrote about a gray cat who was the last tenant of the Henderson Building after the humans had been evicted by Thor Equities. We soon realized the cat was part of a colony of similar looking gray cats living in the former music hall.

Help Save Coney Island Cats

Yesterday in Coney Island: Snow Coney the Cat En Route to Vet. November 15. 2013. Photo by Amusing the Zillion

The NYC Feral Cat Initiative offers free TNR workshops, classes and events to educate and support colony caretakers. If you have experience managing a feral cat colony or would like to learn and help launch a TNR program in Coney Island, or can foster or provide post-op recovery space for a few days, please send a private message using the contact form at the bottom of this post. You may also leave a comment below or subscribe to the comments. We’ll reply or post updates as soon as more info is available.

Coney Island Cat

Yesterday in Coney Island: Snow Coney the Cat. November 15, 2013. Photo by Amusing the Zillion

UPDATE November 17, 2013:

 Help Save Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ and His Friends

Snow Coney after blood transfusion at Manhattan Cat Specialists. November 17, 2013. Photo by Gina Manes

Snow Coney is feeling better after a blood transfusion! If not for the swift action of PJ McKosky of Empty Cages Collective, this cat would not be alive today. Donations to cover the cost of medical can be made via www.emptycagescollective.com/donate/.

Here is the contact form to send us a private message about helping the Coney Island cats. Let us know if you’re able to foster or provide post-op recovery space after TNR surgery.


Related Posts on ATZ…

September 30, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Boardwalk Kittens

January 24, 2013: Landlord Evicting Famous Coney Island Cat and His Humans

February 21, 2011: Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat & His Friend Pretty

January 26, 2011: Photo of the Day: Henderson Music Hall Cats Now Homeless

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