Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2014

Wonder Wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl Cars

The cars of the Wonder Wheel and other rides are removed and refurbished during the winter at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

It’s 20° and more snow (insert groans) is predicted for the weekend, but Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is busy preparing for Coney Island’s Opening Day. Palm Sunday is a mere 7 weeks away, on April 13th! ATZ got a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s annual maintenance rituals. If these photos make you yearn for spring and summer, you’re not the only one.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Getting ready for opening day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

At this time of year, the Vourderis family and their crew are at work daily getting the rides ready for the first spin of the 2014 season. Every year, the landmark 1920 Wheel is overhauled and painted, along with the park’s 20 other rides. The red, white and blue cars of Deno’s Wonder Wheel are always taken down at the end of the season and their return to the Wheel is the first sign of spring in Coney Island.

Mangels Ponycart and Wonder Wheel Cars

Mangels Ponycart and Freshly Painted Wonder Wheel Cars in Winter Storage at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The date the Wonder Wheel cars go up is subject to the vagaries of wind, weather and work schedules, but it’s usually about a week before Opening Day. As we wrote last year: Being there to see the 24 cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

Wonder Wheel Car being painted

Wonder Wheel Car being painted, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the other rides currently taken apart for refurbishment and painting are the Kiddie Park’s Rio Grande Train and Big Trucks. The tops of the Tilt-A-Whirl buckets are also getting a fresh coat of red.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Steve Vourderis and crew with car from Rio Grande Train, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The traditional Palm Sunday opener for Coney Island’s amusement parks is a bit later this year since the April 13th holiday is a moveable feast. Last year, Opening Day was March 24th and in 2012 it was April 1st. Opening Day festivities include the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the first car on the Cyclone Roller Coaster. Until then, this ticket booth tantalizes walkers on the snow-dappled Boardwalk.

Ticket Booth at Deno's Wonder Wonder Park in Winter.

Ticket Booth at Deno’s Wonder Wonder Park in Winter. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

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

March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

March 28, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

March 19, 2012: In Just-Spring, the Wonder Wheel’s Cars Return

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown/

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown. Photo © Feld Entertainment

Last week’s headlines were about a national clown shortage. This week brings news of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus holding auditions for their Clown Alley on March 12th at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Auditionees must be 18 or older and come prepared to show a 3-5 minute routine. This routine should display exaggerated facial expressions and body language, showcase any unique physical skills (juggling, unicycle riding, gymnastics, etc.) and demonstrate an understanding of their comedy, a sense of personality and a true desire to become a member of the world famous, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Clown Alley.

IMPORTANT: Auditionees should not wear any clown makeup and should not wear any costumes. Loose, comfortable clothing should be worn. It is preferred, but not required, that you bring a headshot and a resume to your audition.

Register for the New Jersey audition here. If you can’t make it, here’s where to send your DVD.

Competition for these jobs is always keen. According to Feld Entertainment, approximately 14 people are selected from the more than 4000 per year who apply for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Would Judy Garland and Gene Kelly have made the grade?

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

January 10, 2014: A Head Start on Summer Jobs in Coney Island

December 4, 2013: Curator of the Unusual Seeks Sideshow Freaks & Working Acts for 2014

August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination

Read Full Post »

Surf Avenue

On the Market: Taconic’s former ‘Coney Island North Venture,’ vacant parcels of land on north side of Surf Ave. between W 16th and W 20th Streets

Last year, the landmark Childs Building on the Boardwalk and a neighboring lot zoned for condos became part of iStar Financial’s portfolio when Taconic Investment Partners, which acquired the properties in 2005, defaulted on loans. Now the other shoe has dropped. Taconic’s former “Coney Island North Venture,” three city blocks on the north side of Surf Avenue across from the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium totaling over 100,000 square feet of vacant land, is on the market.

ATZ learned of the offering from Coney Island broker Joe Vitacco. Neither Taconic nor iStar is mentioned in a two-page teaser for “Surf Avenue Assemblage: Prime Coney Island Mixed Use Development Opportunity.” Nor is the price. Interested persons are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the listing broker to find out additional info.

According to the brokers, R7-X and C2-4 zoning allows for approximately 380,426 buildable square feet as-of-right or up to 507,235 buildable square feet with inclusionary housing on 101,447 square feet of parcels. Combined Assessment/Taxes Due for 2013 and ’14 are $1,668,753/$185,488.

“Buyers can also explore a larger assemblage opportunity by incorporating adjacent sites currently owned by HPD,” says the flier. “Developers will also be able to take advantage of the property’s significant retail frontage. With few assemblages of this scale ever coming to market, the Surf Avenue Assemblage represents a unique opportunity to develop a project in one of New York City’s most dynamic submarkets.”

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering. CIDC Press Kit

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering Shows Residential Towers West and North of the Brooklyn Cyclones Stadium. CIDC Press Kit, 2009

Up until a few years ago when they fell silent, Taconic Investment Partners planned to build a glittering city of high-rise apartments and retail west and north of MCU Park. Their Senior VP of Acquisitions and his colleagues were a regular presence at hearings leading up to the Coney Island Rezoning of July 2009. According to Taconic’s website, the rezoning “significantly increased our buildable floor areas for mixed-use residential and retail projects to between 1.8 million and 2.4 million square feet, with the potential to create nearly 2,000 residential units and more than 200,000 square feet of retail space.”

The parcels between W 16th and W 20th Streets have been vacant since the wave of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, says Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, who grew up a few blocks away and documented the razing of the neighborhood in his photos. The RKO Tilyou, operated by the Tilyou family across the street from their Steeplechase Park on Surf at West 17th was demolished in 1973.

Coney Island North and South Venture

Rendering of Coney Island North and South Venture, Taconic Real Estate Investment Partners

Taconic’s plans for their “Coney Island North and South Venture” remain on their website. Only the players are changing.

As Taconic CEO William Bendit told Eliot Brown of the New York Observer in an interview in 2009: “What attracted us to Coney Island was the fact that it’s vacant land—we didn’t have to dispossess anybody, relocate anybody. And it’s the beachfront. How much beachfront land is there in New York City? Not only that, but beachfront land that’s accessible to the subway. So, if you think about it, how many young people, or anybody, for that matter, would like to commute into New York or Brooklyn, and go home at night and live on the beach?”

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

December 7, 2013: New Construction: Coney Island Area’s 1st Hotel in Decades

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

October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

February 17, 2011: New Construction: Coney Island’s 1st Private Beachfront Condos on Boardwalk

Read Full Post »

odd juxtapositions

Parachute Jump with Stars and Stripes. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

A new subcategory of Photo of the Day was born yesterday with this pic of the lighted Parachute Jump, the Stars and Stripes, and a No Loitering Sign outside Nathan’s. We’re calling it Odd Juxtapositions in Coney Island.

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

January 22, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Snowscape by Bruce Handy

October 8, 2013: Photo of the Day: Sunset at Coney Island Pier by Bruce Handy

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

March 21, 2013: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island Meets Miss Coney Island

Read Full Post »

The house under the roller coaster in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” was the real life home for 40 years of Mae Timpano, who shares vivid memories of good times and sad in this 2005 documentary by Lila Place. “If the wind was blowing towards the house, I heard everything going on in Coney Island,” says Timpano in the film. For most of those years under the Thunderbolt, her companion was Freddy Moran, who owned and operated the famed coaster built by his father over the Kensington Hotel in 1925. She recalls the two of them going for swims to the end of Steeplechase Pier at 2AM after she got off work as a waitress.

“Mae’s story is a window onto a lost world and makes us think about the importance of place in a new way,” says the film-maker. In addition to Timpano’s candid reminiscences, the 16-minute documentary includes interviews with family, friends and historians as well as old news clips. Moran tells a TV reporter asking about changes in Coney Island: “Roller coasters are a very, very stable element of the amusement business and I don’t see any way they’re going to be replaced by anything else and give the same feeling.” But after Moran died in 1982, the coaster closed and would never reopen.

Timpano was a spirited survivor who lived alone in the house for several more years. “I got used to the quietness,” she says, just as she had gotten used to the clatter of the roller coaster passing overhead and finding wigs and dentures lost by riders in her backyard. Horace Bullard, who bought the Thunderbolt and other properties with the dream of rebuilding Steeplechase Park, once said of Timpano: “She’s Miss Coney Island. When you get close to her, you get sort of the feeling of what Coney Island used to be like.”

Timpano, who died five years ago, outlived the coaster and her former home, which were controversially and illegally demolished in 2000 on the orders of Mayor Giuliani.

“Under the Roller Coaster” won a number of awards including Best Made in Coney Island Film at the Coney Island Film Festival (2005) and Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short at Slamdance (2006).

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

January 5, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

Read Full Post »

Sword Swallower's Day

Ripley’s Times Square, Sword Swallower’s Day 2013. Photo courtesy of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

Today at 2:22:14pm local time, sword swallowers at Ripley’s Odditoriums in Times Square, Hollywood and several other locations will simultaneously participate in the annual “Big Swallow” for World Sword Swallower’s Day. The free live show begins at 1:30pm.

“Because sword swallowing is so rare, sword swallowers usually perform solo,” says Dan Meyer, the president of the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI), which co-sponsors the event. “World Sword Swallower’s Day gives us a chance to work together to be part of something bigger.” The annual event promotes this ancient art, honors veteran performers, and raises awareness of the medical contributions sword swallowers have made in the fields of medicine and science.

At the Times Square Ripley’s, performers include Todd Robbins, Kyle Mertz and Jim Stileonis. Last year, Robbins’ 5-year old son, Phineas “Finn” Robbins, a Broadway and television actor who often accompanies his famous Dad to sideshow gigs, cutely performed with a toy sword.

Lucky Daredevil Thrill Show

Sword Swallowing Couple Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of Lucky Daredevil Thrill Show. Photo Carlo Pizarro. August 3, 2013

Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill of West Virginia-based Lucky Daredevil Thrill Show will perform in Baltimore. The ravishingly beautiful Jill, who is currently 7 months pregnant with the couple’s third child, is billed as “The World’s Only Pregnant Sword Swallower.”

In St Augustine, Florida, 15-year old Haley Hall, “The World’s Youngest Sword Swallower,” will join multiple Guinness World Record holder Dan Meyer. For World Sword Swallower’s Day 2013, Meyer swallowed a sword and used it to pull a 3700 lb car out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not Baltimore.

At Ripley’s in Hollywood, performers include George the Giant, known as “The World’s Tallest Sword Swallower,” and Brett Loudermilk, who posted this artful and hilarious how-to-be-a-sword-swallower-video along with the disclaimer “DO NOT TRY THIS! ALL INSTRUCTIONS ARE FAKE.”

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

October 6, 2013: Video of the Day: The Down Home Daredevils

February 4, 2013: Rare & Vintage: Girl to Gorilla Sideshow Banner

April 18, 2012: Rare & Vintage: A Neon Sword Swallower’s Sideshow Banner

February 25, 2012: Video: Happy International Sword Swallowers Day!

Read Full Post »

Spinning Glass

Spinning Glass. Sideshow Banner, circa 1915-1920. O’Henry Tent and Awning Co., Chicago. Morphy Auctions

It seems quaint today, but glass blowers used to be one of the working acts in carnival sideshows. “Have you ever seen glass finer than the hair of your head? This is made on a spinning wheel which revolves at the rate of 1000 revolutions per minute,” according to a century-old ad for a glass blower at a fair. “Every lady patron to the show will receive a pretty Souvenir FREE OF CHARGE of Spun Glass, which can be used as a book mark.”

This circa 1915-1920 sideshow banner from the studio of Chicago’s O’Henry Tent & Awning Co. is on the auction block today at Morphy Auctions along with another advertising Ho-Jo The Ostrich Man. The pre-sale estimate for the two banners is $600-$1,200 and bidding is available online.

sideshow banner

Sideshow Banner, circa 1915-1920. O’Henry Tent and Awning Co., Chicago. Morphy Auctions

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

November 23, 2013: More Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

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

February 4, 2013: Rare & Vintage: Girl to Gorilla Sideshow Banner

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: