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Archive for May, 2014

Coney Island Fireworks

Fireworks on Coney Island Beach, July 19, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

[If you’re looking for info on Coney Island’s 2015 fireworks schedule, here you go.]

Readers are already starting to ask about this year’s fireworks, so here you go: The first Friday night fireworks show of Coney Island’s 2014 season will be on June 20, the eve of both the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade. Sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island, this free weekly event continues on Fridays through August 27. Friday night fireworks start at 9:30pm and are shot off from the beach. Best viewing is on the Boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th Streets or from the Wonder Wheel. Another popular viewing spot, Steeplechase Pier, reopened in October after being rebuilt post-Sandy.

UPDATE: On June 27th, the Mayor’s Offices announced that there will be a special Fourth of July Fireworks show in Coney Island at 9:45pm on the Beach and Boardwalk near West 21st Street. July 4th is on a Friday this year and a special permit was required due to the holiday.

The Brooklyn Cyclones also have fireworks inside MCU Park on the following six Saturdays after their home games as well four other days, including the team’s Opening Day, Saturday, June 14th, and June 16 and June 17. This year every Saturday night fireworks show will have a special musical theme. Fireworks at MCU Park start when the game is over, so the time varies and is sometimes later than 9:30. Since the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Fireworks are shot from inside their park, best viewing is within and close to the stadium, which is between W 16th and 19th Streets.

Saturday, June 14 – BROOKLYN CYCLONES HOME OPENER – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Monday, June 16 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Tuesday, June 17 – vs. Hudson Valley Renegades – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 5 – vs. Aberdeen IronBirds – Seinfeld 25th Anniversary Celebration – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 19 – vs Williamsport Crosscutters – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 26 – vs. Vermont Lake Monsters – Elvis Presley Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 2 – vs. Connecticut Tigers – Star Wars Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Wednesday, August 13 – vs. Lowell Spinners – Kosher Kaboom Fireworks
Saturday, August 23 – vs. Tri-City Valley Cats – Princess Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Sunday, August 31 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Fan Appreciation Day -Post-Game Fireworks

When the weather is iffy on a day when fireworks are scheduled, or if the show is delayed, check the Coney Island tweeters on Coney Island Fun’s list for updates. Thanks to People’s Playground photographer Jim McDonnell for his splendid photo of one of last summer’s fireworks shows.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 29, 2014: Parachute Jump ‘Ball Drop,’ Sideshow & Fireworks at Coney Island on New Year’s Eve

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Last evening at 6:55pm, Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster went for its first test run, evoking cheers from fans gathered on the Boardwalk. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy had been standing by for the historic moment and captured “The Thunderbolt’s Maiden Voyage” in this short video.

As previously noted (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” ATZ, March 10, 2014), Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for Coney — the Cyclone in 1927. Luna Park’s newest ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt and is expected to open as soon as the test runs and permitting process are complete.

UPDATE June 2, 2014

To anyone who watched this video of the Thunderbolt’s first test run and jumped to the conclusion it would open over the weekend, hang in there! There’ll be multiple test runs, some of which were conducted today, before the new coaster opens. On Saturday, Luna Park employees variously said the coaster would open next Saturday or in two weeks, but there’s been no officially announced date.

Related posts on ATZ…

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

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

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

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Rolling Stones Pinball Machine

Rolling Stones Pinball Machine at Margarita Island, Coney Island. May 26, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Pinball is back in Coney. It’s only one table–the Rolling Stones (Stern 2011)– but most New York bars with pinball machines have one or two, according to the New York City Pinball Map. The location is Margarita Island, the newly opened bar at 1205 Bowery that is the successor to Beer Island. There’s a Boxer and a few other arcade machines in the indoor bar adjacent to the patio.

Coney Island has arcades with redemption games galore–The Eldorado on the Bowery, under Deno’s Wonder Wheel, and at Luna Park–but no pinball. Back in 2011, Ruby’s and the Freak Bar each had one table, and Carl Muraco’s Game World on Surf Avenue had two. All were destroyed by Sandy.

Related posts on ATZ…

March 30, 2014: Spring Reading: “Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Machine”

November 15, 2013: Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model

November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

August 15, 2011: Games: Where You Can Play Vintage Pinball Year Round

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Miss Colombia with Carino the Poodle and Rosita the Parrot

Miss Colombia with Carino the Poodle and Rosita the Parrot, Coney Island Boardwalk. August 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Memorial Day in Coney Island, the colorfully costumed Oswaldo Gomez aka Miss Colombia paraded by and we scurried to take a photo. Rosita the parrot was as usual perched on his head. Where was Carino the poodle? “Carino died,” Oswaldo said. “He was 17.” That’s the equivalent of 84 in human years. The poodle passed away earlier this month.

Carino and Rosita Ride the Steeplechase Horse

Carino and Rosita Ride the Steeplechase Horse at the Coney Island History Project, May 27, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

It was on Memorial Day Weekend in 2008 that we first became aware of Miss Colombia and his pets as a New York City phenom. The Mermaids, a male folk rock duo, were singing in front of the Cyclone when he came by, took the dog out of the carriage, pirouetted around and stole the show. The flamboyant trio have been in every parade in New York City and are the subject of their very own flickr group. You’ve seen them in the Mermaid Parade, the Easter Parade, the Chinese New Year’s Day Parade, the West Indian Day Parade, Gay Pride, and St Pat’s.

Victory dance

Victory Dance after winning 1st Prize at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park’s Pet Day, June 11, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

As regular visitors to the People’s Playground, the dog and the parrot got to “ride” the Steeplechase horse and the antique Whip car at the Coney Island History Project. They won first prize in the first annual Pet Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Afterwards, Miss Colombia did a victory dance while the parrot perched on Carino’s back, clasping the prize–a season’s pass to the Wonder Wheel– in her beak. Rest in peace, sweet little Carino.

Miss Colombia and Carino in Mermaid Parade

Miss Colombia and Carino in Mermaid Parade, June 20, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Related Posts on ATZ…

May 22, 2014: Video of the Day: Parrots Visit Coney Island

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

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

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

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LunaTics Ice Cream

Opening Day at LunaTics Ice Cream on Surf Avenue. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday, several new businesses and exhibits opened for the season, with some operators pulling all nighters in the race to be ready for the start of Memorial Day Weekend. Among them was LunaTics Ice Cream, located in the former Island Grocery on the south side of Surf Avenue. Dennis Corines, who operated Denny’s Ice Cream a few doors away on Surf from the 1970’s until he sold his building to Coney Island USA in 2011, is a consultant to store owner Shaukat Mian.

LunaTics Ice Cream Coney Island

Denny’s Banana Pistachio at LunaTics Ice Cream. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday they offered us a banana pistachio which tasted exactly like the last one we had in the summer of 2012, when CIUSA operated Denny’s. That’s not so long ago, but since Denny’s was destroyed by Sandy and the building is now occupied by an antique shooting gallery, we never expected to taste it again. Delicious!

LunaTics Ice Cream

Dennis Corines former owner of Denny’s Ice Cream and Shaukat Mian former operator of Island Grocery. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Shaukat Mian owns the building at 1224 Surf and operated Island Grocery at the location for 13 years. His brand-new business offers a menu similar to Denny’s. There’s soft serve ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, banana and pistachio, as well as hard ice cream, Italian ices, shakes, and cotton candy, popcorn, jelly apples and funnel cake.

The Face of Steeplechase Coney Island History Project

Charles Denson with detail of “The Face of Steeplechase” exhibit at the Coney Island History Project. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

At the non-profit Coney Island History Project on West 12th Street, a new exhibit pays tribute to the ubiquitous symbol of Coney Island, George C. Tilyou’s “Funny Face.” Variations of the Face are used to promote a slew of Coney Island products and businesses today and inspired New Jersey’s “Tillie” but it was original to Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park (1897-1964). Curated by Coney Island historian Charles Denson and featuring rare photos from his archives, the exhibit commemorates the 50th anniversary of the closing of Steeplechase and the 100th anniversary of Tilyou’s death.

The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!

Photo of the Blowhole Theater from “The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!” at the Coney Island History Project

According to the exhibit notes and the photos, the Face was originally believed to be a caricature of Tilyou’s brother Edward and underwent many changes during the park’s lifetime. “Sometimes it was a gleeful, maniacal visage,” writes Denson. “At other times, it appeared as inscrutable as the Mona Lisa.” “The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!” opened on Saturday and is on view weekends and holidays through Labor Day. Admission is free of charge.

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co.

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co. In Thor Equities Building on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co. opened on Saturday after getting their custom-made sign up on the building in the wee hours of the morning. It’s located on the Stillwell Avenue side of Thor Equities building in a space leased by Wampum last summer. Owned by Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad, the store will sell private label clothing. The spinoff of Brooklyn Beach Shop will be the fifth store owned by the Haddad family in Coney Island, where they have operated retail shops since 1996.

Surf & Stillwell partners Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad

Surf & Stillwell partners Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad

The new store is across the avenue from Nathan’s as well as the Coney Island Beach Shop, which Maya and Yaniv’s father Haim Haddad opened in 2002. Brooklyn Beach Shop has locations on the Boardwalk and inside Stillwell Terminal. Nathan’s Gift Shop on the Boardwalk is also operated by the Haddads, who have a licensing agreement with Nathan’s. Surf & Stillwell is the only new store so far this year in Thor’s retail building. Current tenants are It’Sugar, Brooklyn Rock, Rainbow Shops and the Brooklyn Nets.

Fred Kahl Scan-O-Rama

Fred Kahl at his Scan-O-Rama Booth. May 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Last summer, we wrote about Fred Kahl’s futuristic 3-D portrait studio in a former fortuneteller’s booth in Coney Island. After raising more than $16,000 via Kickstarter to fund the project, he kept the studio open year-round and it remains open Saturdays from 12 till 5pm during the spring and summer. Duplicates of the 3-D portraits are featured in a populated scale model of Thompson and Dundy’s Luna Park circa 1914 which debuted on Saturday at the Coney Island Museum.

3D Luna Park by Fred Kahl

Fred Kahl’s 3D Luna Park Installation at Coney Island Museum. Photo via TheGreatFredini.com

“Luna Park has a special place in history, a witness to the society being transformed by technology. These are the themes that are relevant to us today as our world undergoes the third industrial revolution,” says Kahl whose impressive installation is the first phase of a work in progress. “Big sigh of relief, now I need to get printing the rest of Luna Park.” The exhibit is on view during museum hours, which are currently Friday through Sunday. Admission is $5.00.

Luna Park's White Castle Trailer

Luna Park’s White Castle Trailer on Wonder Wheel Way at Stillwell Avenue, May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

White Castle Express opened in Luna Park on Saturday at both the Cyclone Cafe and in the former Luna BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way. After breaking the news on Friday (“White Castle Sliders Coming to Coney Island,” ATZ May 23, 2014) we’re still baffled by the divergence of friends’ reactions–from mmmm to ugh. From comments on twitter, it’s clear WC has quite a following, probably because they’ve been in biz since 1921 and in New York since 1930. That puts them in a different category than chains like Johnny Rockets (“The Original Hamburger,” founded in 1986!) and other newbies. We tried some fries and the price was right for a quick snack. Only $2.19 for medium fries including tax.

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April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

March 14, 2012: Coney Entrepreneurs to Open 1st Ever Nathan’s Gift Shop

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White Castle
White Castle, the legendary burger chain founded in 1921 in Kansas, will soon be serving their sliders in Coney Island’s Luna Park. On Thursday, samples of the little burgers were being given away in anticipation of the opening of what’s called White Castle Express. The food demonstration rep said the burgers would soon be available at locations in Luna Park including the BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way. (Update: White Castle burgers were available this afternoon at Luna Park’s Cyclone Cafe for 95 cents including tax.)

Earlier this year, the White Castle slider was named Time magazine’s most influential burger of all time in a poll of hamburger historians and experts. How will it fare in Coney, where Boardwalk mainstays Nathan’s, Tom’s, Ruby’s, and Paul’s Daughter have burgers on their menus, and Burger-Fi and Johnny Rockets are said to be on the way? Can a hamburger eating contest be far behind?

White Castle is a family-owned business based in Ohio that owns and operates more than 400 restaurants in 12 states including more than a dozen in New York City.

UPDATE May 24, 2014

White Castle Express was open in Luna Park on Saturday at both the Cyclone Cafe and in the former Luna BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way near Stillwell, one of five new businesses and exhibits opening over the weekend. Please note that these are seasonal stands which are open when Luna Park is open for business and not year-round restaurants.

Luna Park's White Castle Trailer

Luna Park’s White Castle Trailer on Wonder Wheel Way at Stillwell Avenue, May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

September 23, 2013: Happy First Anniversary to Tom’s Coney Island!

September 7, 2013: Photo of the Day: Sweet Potato Fries at Ruby’s Bar & Grill

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

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Parrots Ride Wonder Wheel

Parrots Ride the Wonder Wheel, Coney Island. May 18, 2014. Photo via Facebook.com/SonnyMushy

On Sunday, ATZ chanced to meet these four Brooklyn parrots and their humans boarding Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Ronen, who is seen in the above photo posing with Sonny Mushy, a 12-year-old Amazon parrot, and Sky Mushy, gave us his card: “Exotic Birds — Training and Consultations.” He’s taken his birds to Coney Island before but it was their first time riding the Wheel. “Sky was a bit skittish. Sonny was okay, but all in all it was a good experience for them,” said Ronen, who brings the parrots outdoors to socialize them. “They’re pretty intelligent animals. They have the mind capacity of a five-year-old.”

Ronen and his friends are part of a new group called NYC Parrot Adventures. A video of their Sunday adventure, “Parrots Visit Coney Island,” is posted on YouTube by Michael Sazhin, who writes the Trained Parrot Blog. Sazhin brought Truman, a Cape parrot, and Kili, a Senegal parrot, to Coney Island for their second visit.

Truman made headlines last month when he went missing for 48 hours. The parrot was found in Canarsie, where he’d flown from Bensonhurst, a distance of six miles. In Coney Island, the parrots fly in avian harnesses. “They flew at the beach, ate at Nathan’s, played with loads of people, and took a ride on the historic Wonder Wheel, a Ferris Wheel landmark built in 1920,” Sazhin writes on his blog. “The birds had a fantastic time. Not only did they get sun and fresh air, but also an incredible socialization experience.”

As for parrots riding the Wheel, it’s not unusual to see dogs and other pets riding the stationary cars accompanied by their owners, usually on the park’s annual Pet Day, which is June 14th this year and includes a pet costume contest. In the contest’s first year, one of the winners was Miss Columbia’s parrot Rosita, who clasped the prize-winning season pass to the Wonder Wheel in her beak.

Rosita the Parrot

Rosita the Parrot and Miss Columbia, Pet Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, June 11, 2011. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

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January 27, 2014: AC Boardwalk, Disneyland Have Model Programs for Feral Cats–Why Not Coney Island?

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

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

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

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