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Archive for December, 2014

New Years Eve 2015 Coney Island

Preview of New Year’s Eve light show and ‘ball drop’ on Parachute Jump. Photo via Alliance for Coney Island

Already world-famous for its New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, Coney Island is having its first-ever New Year’s Eve celebration on Wednesday and first fireworks show of 2015. The free event will feature a digital “ball drop” on the illuminated Parachute Jump, live entertainment by the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and a fireworks extravaganza. The idea originated with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who vowed to bring a New Year’s Eve celebration to Coney Island when he was elected last year.

“Now that we have our very own seaside ball drop, why be squished like a sardine in Times Square when you can rejoice like royalty in the County of Kings!” said Adams, who plans to make it an annual tradition. The 1939 Parachute Jump, which is known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, is bedecked with 8,000 LEDs and lit year-round, but this is the landmark’s debut as the centerpiece of a celebration.

coney Island Fireworks Jim McDonnell

Fireworks on Coney Island Beach. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Adams teamed up with Coney’s City Councilman Mark Treyger and the Alliance for Coney Island to sponsor the festivities. The fun starts at 9:00pm with a DJ spinning at the Jump, which is located on the boardwalk just west of 16th Street. Revelers will be treated to giveaways as well as complimentary hot chocolate. Sideshow performances and live music begin around 11:00pm 10:30pm with the ball drop at midnight followed by fireworks shot off from the beach.

A number of local bars and eateries will be open for New Year’s Eve and offering extended hours. Tom’s Coney Island, the Boardwalk outpost of the Prospect Park eatery, which has a full bar, will be serving till 12:30am. The original Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue will be open till midnight. Surf Avenue restaurants with bars keeping later hours–till 1 or 2am– are Peggy O’Neill’s (1904 Surf Ave.), Footprints (1521 Surf Ave.) and Applebee’s (1217 Surf Ave.). Dunkin Donuts in Stillwell Terminal is open 24 hours. Eldorado Bumper Cars (1216 Surf Ave.) will be open till 1:00am. All will be open again for Thursday’s Polar Bear Dip.

On New Year’s Day, the fun starts up again at 10am, when Ruby’s Bar, Coney Island’s oldest, will open early to welcome participants of the Polar Bear Dip. Swim time is 1pm sharp and you can avoid long lines by registering in advance online and making a minimum $20 donation to the fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer vacation.

Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Freak Bar will be open from 2-6pm on New Year’s Day. Coney Island’s official parking lot next to MCU Park will be open and FREE for both New Year’s Eve and the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip.

Fire-eater at Coney Island USA Gala

Fire-eater at Coney Island USA. Photo © Norman Blake

Related posts on ATZ…

January 5, 2016: Coney Island New Year’s by the Numbers: 28K Visitors, Nearly $90K Raised for Charity

December 29, 2015: Coney Island to Ring in 2016 with Parties, Free Rides, Light Shows, Fireworks, Polar Bear Plunge

December 10, 2014: ATZ’s 12 Days of Coney Island Christmas Gift Guide

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

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Parachute Jump Wonder Wheel

Parachute Jump and Wonder Wheel Lit for Holidays, December 24, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

This strikingly beautiful photo of two Coney Island landmarks illuminated for the holidays was taken by Bruce Handy on Christmas Eve 2013. Though the Wonder Wheel appears to be superimposed on the Parachute Jump, there’s no Photoshop trickery here. It’s precisely what the photographer saw that night. “I walked out the door of my apartment house and turned the corner and nearly fainted at the sight,” Bruce tells ATZ. “It was a Christmas Eve miracle. A complete surprise. The photo can only be taken from that exact spot.”

Ever since The Parachute Jump’s dazzling 8,000 LEDs debuted in 2013, the landmark tower’s light show has continued nightly. Specially programmed lighting schemes have paid tribute to the two slain NYPD officers, raised awareness for childhood cancer, and celebrated holidays such as the Fourth of July and Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, the Jump’s LEDs will ring in 2015 with a simulated “ball drop” and light show.

The annual tradition of putting a lighted cross atop the Wonder Wheel during the Christmas season began in 1945 to mark the end of World War II and the troops return home. During the war years, Coney Island was dark after sundown because of “dim-out” and “blackout” regulations to protect shipping from being silhouetted for the enemy by the glare from the shore. The new LED cross was made by DJ Vourderis, whose family has owned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for more than 30 years.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 22, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Tribute in Light to Slain NYPD Officers

December 22, 2013: Traveler: Christmas Holidays at Parks in Northern Climes

December 18, 2013: Photo Album: Christmas Peddlers in Old New York

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

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Released on December 26, 1931, On the Loose stars the comedy team of Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts as two gals whose parade of boyfriends never take them anywhere but Coney Island and they’re sick of it. Giggling as they recall “the refrigerator salesman from Schenectady” and other dates who won the chalkware prizes crowding the mantle in their apartment, they vow that today was their last trip to Coney. Well, of course it wasn’t. By 8:23 in the 20 minute film, the duo are back in Coney Island on a double date with two Englishmen who say it’s “very smart and quite original” and they’re going to do it all.

The gag is that ever since the days of silent movies, Coney Island, with its amusement rides that flung couples into each others arms, has been a popular setting for comedies. Among our faves are Coney Island (1917) with Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton and It (1927), in which Clara Bow plays a shop girl who goes on a first date with her boss to Coney Island, though the film is said to have been made at Ocean Park Pier in California. The Coney Island scenes in Harold Lloyd’s Speedy were shot at four different amusement parks– two in Coney and two in California– according to film historian John Bengtson.

California’s Venice Pier, which like Steeplechase also had a Human Roulette Wheel, rotating Barrel of Love and Giant Slide, was a stand-in for Coney Island in On the Loose. Some of the funniest scenes have ZaSu and Thelma shushing the game attendants who remember them from previous visits and Thelma proving she’s a crack shot at the shooting gallery.

In the last few minutes of the film, Laurel and Hardy make a cameo appearance. We won’t spoil it by telling you what happens when they ask the two woman out on a date to where else but Coney Island. The film was directed and produced by Hal Roach, whose studio also made the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang comedies.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 8, 2013: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

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

August 16, 2011: Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island

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

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Christmas window display.

Christmas window display on Mulberry Street. December 25, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Buon Natale from magical Mulberry Street! These photos were taken very early on Christmas morning in Little Italy after Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood and Shrine of San Gennaro. Crèches, Christmas tree ornaments, and an array of amulets to protect against the evil eye were on display in store windows.

Christmas window display

Christmas window display on Mulberry Street. December 25, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

There were also snow globes of the holy family and statues of Napoleon as well as espresso sets and cheese graters, but none could be purchased since the shops were closed on Christmas morn.

Christmas window display

Christmas window display on Mulberry Street. December 25, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Inspired by the humility and inclusivity of Pope Francis, ATZ went to Christmas Mass last year for the first time in a very long time. This beautiful church on Mulberry Street was built in 1888 but currently has very few parishioners—there were only about 10 people at the Christmas morning Mass.

Church of the Most Precious Blood

Church of the Most Precious Blood and the Shrine of San Gennaro, Mulberry Street. December 25, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The last time that we there, for the Feast of San Gennaro on September 19th, we took photos of the crowds, the food and the carnival games on Mulberry Street, as well as the procession featuring the Statue of San Gennaro and the interior of the Church of the Most Precious Blood. It was the day of the saint’s martyrdom in the 4th century and thus the procession and the miracle. We were told that at 9:30am in Naples, where his body is preserved, the blood of San Gennaro liquefied.

Amid the empty streets on Christmas morning, the most mysterious sight was this sign on a townhouse door: “Pretending to be a normal person day after day is exhausting.”

Christmas Door on Mulberry Street

Christmas Door on Mulberry Street: “Pretending to be a normal person day after day is exhausting.” December 25, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ...

December 22, 2013: Traveler: Christmas Holidays at Parks in Northern Climes

December 18, 2013: Photo Album: Christmas Peddlers in Old New York

September 20, 2013: Photo Album: 87th Annual Feast of San Gennaro

September 24, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro

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Parachute Jump Light Tribute

Parachute Jump Tribute in Light to NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu, December 21, 2014. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Sunday night, the Parachute Jump lights went dark except for two blue stripes honoring the Brooklyn police officers who were ambushed and killed in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday. The tribute in light to the NYPD’s Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos will be repeated on Monday. “Two nights in honor of the two officers,” said Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island as well as Gravesend, where Officer Liu lived.

Treyger announced the lighting via twitter just before 6pm and later posted photos calling it a “soaring tribute” and thanking “all of our finest for your courage & sacrifice.” Approximately 300 people attended the candlelight vigil and prayers at the Parachute Jump, said Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy. In attendance were City Council members Treyger and Chaim Deutsch, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, clergy, and community officials and residents, as well as members of the NYPD, FDNY and EMS from South Brooklyn.

The Parachute Jump, which is lit year-round by Luna Park with 8,000 LEDs, went gold on September 5th as part of the Gold World Project to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer. On New Year’s Eve, the Jump’s LEDs will ring in 2015 with a simulated “ball drop” and light show.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

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

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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Public Design Commission Hearing

Public Testimony at the Public Design Commission Hearing on the Coney Island Boardwalk, March 12, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

If you’re in ATZ’s address book, chances are you received the following email from us yesterday or today. Please copy it and share it widely. You can help save the Boardwalk for future gens by signing the petition!

Dear Friends,

City Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch, whose districts include the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk, have just launched a public petition calling for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the boardwalk a “Scenic Landmark.” Please help their efforts by signing this petition at Change.org and sharing with your friends. It could be our last chance to stop the Boardwalk from becoming the Concretewalk.

If you do not wish your name to appear publicly simply uncheck the box beneath the red “Sign” tab before you click it.

Link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/nyc-landmarks-preservation-commission-designate-historic-riegelmann-boardwalk-as-scenic-landmark

Boardwalk under construction

Walking on Boardwalk Under Construction, November 29, 1922. Photo by E.E. Rutter via NYC Dept of Records, Municipal Archives

“There is no question that the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk is one of the most iconic and beloved structures in our entire city and clearly merits this designation,” said Councilman Treyger. “I have already heard from dozens of New Yorkers who are shocked this isn’t already the case and wanted to share their personal stories of what the boardwalk means to them and their families. This is an important piece of New York City history and we must act now before it is drastically changed and lost forever. I am asking anyone who has ever visited the Riegelmann Boardwalk or cares about preserving our history to join our effort.”

“The Coney Island Boardwalk is a Brooklyn icon that possesses significant value, attracting visitors since 1923. In an effort to prevent any compromise of the historic design, I urge the Landmark Preservation Commission to grant landmark status to the boardwalk,” said Councilman Deutsch.

Boardwalk renovation 1934

The Boardwalk opened in 1923 and was already undergoing renovation in 1934: Group of men ripping up old planking on Coney Island boardwalk near Half Moon Hotel. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who represents New York’s 8th congressional district in Brooklyn and Queens, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also spoke in support of the designation.

“The famed Coney Island Boardwalk has been an important part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of our City for generations. The effort by Councilman Treyger to secure scenic landmark designation for the boardwalk will help preserve this Brooklyn icon for future New Yorkers to enjoy and experience, and I look forward to working with him to make it a reality,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

“The Riegelmann Boardwalk is imprinted with over 90 years of history, helping to establish Coney Island as America’s playground,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is co-sponsoring a New Year’s Eve celebration including an LED light show and fireworks, at Coney’s Parachute Jump, which he plans to make an annual tradition.

“Millions of visitors have made the pilgrimage to southern Brooklyn, and we want to see millions more enjoy its unique, iconic character in the decades to come,” said the Borough President. “I support a scenic landmark designation for the Riegelmann Boardwalk because I believe it is in the best interest of Brooklyn’s cultural and economic well-being. I look forward to working with my elected colleagues and local stakeholders to advance this proposal.”

Coney Island Boardwalk

Section of Boardwalk in amusement area under repair, Coney Island. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

During the Council members first year in office they listened to constituents complaints about the already conpleted concrete sections of the boardwalk and tried to get the City to agree to a moratorium until further environmental studies could be done. However, Daniel Zarrilli, head of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a holdover from the Bloomberg administration, told the City Council in June: “The use of concrete in boardwalks is not going to change at this point, is a sound decision and that stands,” according to the New York Daily News.

Coney Island Boardwalk

Section of Coney Island Concretewalk at West 36th Street near Sea Gate. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The petition will be submitted to the Mayor’s office and the LPC as part of the councilmen’s argument for designating the 2.7-mile boardwalk along the Brighton Beach and Coney Island waterfront as a Scenic Landmark. Among New York City’s official Scenic Landmarks are Central Park, Fort Tryon Park, Prospect Park, Eastern Parkway and Ocean Parkway.

“For nearly a century, Coney Island’s wooden boardwalk has provided the public with a rustic observation platform, a cool, soft, raised promenade that captures ocean breezes and affords a respite from New York City’s hard concrete jungle,” said Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson. “Much like the unfortunate destruction of Penn Station before it could be landmarked, the ‘concrete solution’ to the Boardwalk’s maintenance problems is shortsighted and ill advised. This historic structure must be protected and preserved.”

Riegelmann Boardwalk

Riegelmann Boardwalk Sign at Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

December 8, 2014: City Councilman’s Proposal to Landmark the Boardwalk Could Halt Concretewalk

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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Step Right UpAfter Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island got lucky when a rare vintage 1940’s Mangels shooting gallery from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was brought out of storage, restored, and installed at Coney Island USA’s Surf Avenue storefront. As far as we know, it’s the only one of its kind in operation that is open to the public. Since many shooting galleries were sold for scrap iron during World Wars I and II, you’re more likely to come across cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and torpedo boats in folk art collections than as a game in an amusement park.

Richard and Valerie Tucker’s passion for collecting figural cast iron began in the`early 1980s with the acquisition of a row of doves from a William F. Mangels’ gallery manufactured in Coney Island. Thirty years later, they own hundreds of shooting gallery targets from a variety of manufacturers. Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms is a sumptuous coffee table art book with more than 225 color images of American and European targets along with a sampling of carnival banners, signs and game pieces. As the first and only book on the subject, the volume is valuable to collectors and of special interest to fans of carnival art and antiques.

In addition to Mangels, the 144-page book has chapters on C.W. Parker of Kansas, William Wurfflein of Philadelphia, the John T. Dickman Company of Los Angeles and Chicago manufacturers Evans, Hoffmann, Mueller, and Smith, as well as miscellaneous targets and a few European targets. Essays by specialists on the manufacturers supplement illustrations from the Tuckers’ archive of catalogs, trade cards and other ephemera which are a great resource since the majority of targets have no trade marks.

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Card Suits by WF Mangels. Private Collection. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

One of our favorite target makers is C.W. Parker, who started out as a shooting gallery operator and soon got into the business of supplying traveling carnivals with a wide variety of attractions. Parker had a showman’s flair for borrowing design ideas from his fellow manufacturers and fashioning them into commercially successful shooting galleries and carousels.

No complete Parker galleries are known to exist or even to have been photographed, says Bob Goldsack, a Parker historian who wrote the book’s chapter on the self-proclaimed “Carnival King.” Parker’s highly detailed and mechanized targets included owls and eagles with flapping wings, whippets chasing rabbits, and the now politically incorrect circus animals, Indians, and Lincolnesque figure holding a sign that says “Hit Me” in a gallery advertised as “A New Political Shooting Gallery.”

A lecture and book signing by the authors will be held at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Ave at 66th St, in Manhattan, on December 18 at 6pm. Admission is free of charge.

Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms by Richard and Valerie Tucker. Schiffer Publishing, 2014. Hardcover, $45

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Indian by CW Parker. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

Related posts on ATZ…

September 5, 2013: Photo of the Day: Restored WF Mangels Shooting Gallery

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

September 28, 2011: Rare & Vintage: Auction of French Fairground Art

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

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