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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Coney Island Polar Bear Club

Greetings from Coney Island! Coney Island Polar Bear Club poses for group photo before their first swim of the season on November 1, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Sunday, the 112-year-old Coney Island Polar Bear Club went for their first swim of the 2015-2016 season on the same day the amusement rides went for their last spin of the year. Today, Mayor de Blasio gave the Polar Bears a shout-out in a release for NYC & Company’s new winter tourism campaign. Called Unlock NYC and taglined “Find a Winter Less Ordinary,” the campaign was launched on Monday at World Travel Market in London.

“There are endless reasons to love New York City in every season, but something special happens when the snow falls – from Lunar New Year celebrations in Flushing and the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center, to watching the Polar Bear Club brave the frigid waters on Coney Island,” says Mayor Bill de Blasio in the release. “People from around the world feel the pull of New York City, and with Unlock NYC visitors can find the hidden gems – the New Yorker’s New York – and experience our city on a budget.”

New Year's Day Polar Bear Dip at Coney Island

He Did It! Annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip at Coney Island Attracts Thousands. January 1, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita


On January 1st in Coney Island, people travel from near and far to welcome the New Year by joining the Polar Bears’ annual dip in the icy Atlantic. “I believe we had approximately 2,500 swimmers participate, very similar to last year,” Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club told ATZ a few days after this year’s swim. The event attracted just as many spectators and raised more than $70,000 for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses can enjoy a summer vacation.

The Coney Island Polar Bears, who have about 125 members, swim on Sundays at 1pm from November through April. If you want to join them for the 2016 New Year’s Day Dip or as a guest at a Sunday swim, here’s how.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club

Coney Island Polar Club’s first swim of the 2015-2016 season. November 1, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

January 2, 2014: Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge’s Best Dressed of 2014

January 1, 2013: Videos of the Day: Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge 2013

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

December 18, 2011: Playing Santa at the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

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Kite Aerial Photography Coney Island

Kite aerial photography at last year’s kite festival in Coney Island. Photo © Ron Marcisak

The beach belongs to kite flyers this weekend! On Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27, from 9:30am – 5pm, you can go fly a kite or buy a kite and learn to fly it on the beach between West 10th Street and Stillwell Avenue. Professionals and amateurs will be flying one line, dual line, and quad line kites. The annual event is free and all ages are welcome to participate or spectate.

If you go, you’ll want to take photos of the colorful sea creature-shaped kites in the sky. In past years, we’ve seen a green octopus with flowing tentacles, a giant crab, schools of tropical fish, and a scuba diver. These photos were shot at last year’s festival by Ron Marcisak, one of the organizers of the New York Kite Aerial Photography Meet-up Group.

Coney Island Kite Festival

Coney Island Beach at start of last year’s kite festival. Photo © Ron Marcisak

This weekend is also the Coney Island Hot Rod and Tattoo Show at Coney Island USA and the 34th Annual Great Irish Fair at MCU Park. The rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park are open weekends and holidays through November 1st.

Though the beach is now closed for swimming, sunbathing is allowed and encouraged. Says photographer Ron Marcisak of his photo shown below: “NO PHOTOS PLEASE. See the beach bag? Ironic?”

Kite aerial Photography

Kite aerial photography at last year’s Coney Island Kite Festival. Photo © Ron Marcisak

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Sand Sculpting Contest

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

Wow! This year is the 25th anniversary of Coney Island’s Sand Sculpting Contest. The free event will be held on Saturday, August 15, from 11am. If you’re planning to join the competition, we recommend registering now. Spots for some of the categories are already closed but you can still register as a group here. The event is open to amateurs and semi-professional sand sculpting artists of all ages and offers cash prizes as well as bragging rights. The Sand Sculpting Contest was founded in 1990 by Judi Orlando of Astella Development and is now run in partnership with Brooklyn Community Services.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 16, 2015: Coney Island Businesses Racing to Open by Mermaid Parade Day Now Aiming for July

May 21, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays Including July 4

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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Coney Island Talent Show

Got talent? Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions, the creator and producer of the Coney Island Talent Show, has posted an open call for contestants for the sixth annual contest, which offers over $2,500 in cash and prizes. The talent show’s three categories are Creative Kids 9-12 years old, Creative Kids 13-17 years old, and Song, Dance & Variety, 18 and up. The stage is on the Boardwalk before thousands–no, wait–zillions of people, as well as the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and July 15 is the deadline to apply for the July 25 show.

Coney Island Talent Show

Coney Island Talent Show 2014. 3rd place winner of Creative kids 9-12 years old, Elana Caceres. Photo © Robin Souma

So far, Jen has gotten more adults and older kids and “could use a little push for the little ones,” she says. In past years, the talent show has presented singers, musicians, dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists and snake charmers, among others. Here are a few photos of last year’s winners in the Creative Kids, 9-12 Category. Last year, Tori Famularo won first place in the her age group for her rendition of The Girl in 14G. To apply to perform in the show, visit coneyislandtalentshow.com.

Troi Famularo

Tori Famularo singing The Girl in 14G in the 2014 Coney Island Talent Show. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Related posts on ATZ…

June 16, 2015: Coney Island Businesses Racing to Open by Mermaid Parade Day Now Aiming for July

May 21, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays Including July 4

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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Coney Island Mermaid Parade

2014 Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Photo © Norman Blake. all Rights Reserved

Happy Mermaid Day! Today is the 33rd Annual Mermaid Parade produced by non-profit arts org Coney Island USA. America’s largest art parade is worth the trip from anywhere. If you plan to march as a mermaid or other sea creature, or simply watch it from the curb or the boardwalk, we recommend getting here early, say 11:00am. To avoid traffic jams, take the D, F, N or Q train to Stillwell Avenue and leave your car at home unless it’s one of the vintage cars in the Parade.

The Mermaid Parade starts rolling down Surf Avenue at 1:00pm, but parade-goers can also take photos in the staging area on West 21st Street from 10:30am till 12:30pm, for a fee of $20. Check out our post from last year, Fave Spots to Photograph Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade (ATZ, June 19, 2014).

Although the Mermaid Parade is free to watch, it costs a lot of clams to produce, say the folks at Coney Island USA, who are trying a new method of fundraising this year. Fans of the Parade are being asked to text MERMAID to 91999 and make a donation. Everyone who makes a text donation of $20 or more on the day of the Parade will be entered into a raffle for 5 pairs of tickets to one of several Off Broadway shows.

There will be no Mermaid Ball this year due to lack of a suitable venue. Make your own after-party by patronizing Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Freak Bar, and the Coney Island businesses sponsoring the Parade including Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island Brewing Company, Coney Island Smorgasburg, Dona Zita, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Gyro Corner, Paul’s Daughter, Peggy O’Neills, Ruby’s Bar and Williams Candy Shop.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 18, 2015: Photo Album: Making Mulch & Chainsaw Art from Recycled NYC Trees in Coney Island

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

June 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra Opening the Ocean

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Chainsaw Art

Chainsaw Art and Mulch in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Mulch for sale by the yard and the buzz of chainsaws are among the unexpected new sights and sounds in Coney Island’s amusement district this season. Chainsaw carvers creating sculptures and mulch made from recycled New York City sycamores removed under contract with the Parks Department will be on a vacant lot next to the Thunderbolt roller coaster on Mermaid Parade Day and the Fourth of July. The artists are from upstate New York and New England and include Susan Peters of Blue Rose Chainsaw Carvings, Ravena, NY; Sue O’Sullivan of Renaissance Girl, Royalston, MA; and Adam Mulholland of Sickline Carving, Windham, CT.

Chainsaw Carving

Chainsaw Carvings for Sale in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ first met the carvers and took these photos on Memorial Day Weekend in Coney Island, where they’d been invited by Roger West of A.2.Z Universal. West is a subcontractor hired by Paul Bunyan Tree Service to help recycle some of the thousands of trees that have been cut down in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. On Memorial Day, the scene on the Surf Avenue side of the lot where the event took place was reminiscent of a rural county fair. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks to watch the carvers shape wood into fanciful sculptures and buy some of the pieces, which range in price from $20 to a few thousand dollars.

Chainsaw Carving

Chainsaw Carving on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

An array of finished pieces was on display along with piles of mulch for sale and a towering stack of firewood. The carvings included tikis, totems and Hello Kitty, among others. Insignia of the Brooklyn Cyclones and Gargiulo’s Restaurant found homes at these local businesses. For Mermaid Parade Day, the carvers have been creating an inventory of starfish, seahorses and other sea creatures to sell in Coney Island. The privately owned lot is just west of West 15th Street, sandwiched between Luna Park’s Thunderbolt and Peggy O’Neills.

Chainsaw Art Coney Island

Chainsaw Carvings for Sale in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

West has already processed a couple of thousand yards of mulch and has enough wood from New York City trees to make 10,000 more yards. “I can ramp up my production but I need an alternative outlet because we’re producing it at a high rate,” says West, who hopes gardeners, community groups, businesses and anyone in the market for mulch will contact him via A2zuniversalLLC[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Chainsaw Art

Chainsaw Art and Mulch in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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New York City Air Show

It’s been 15 years since Coney Island’s last air show but 2015 won’t be the year for a long-awaited comeback after all. ATZ has learned the New York Air Show that was planned for Coney Island on August 29 and 30 is being moved 60 miles north of New York City, to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY! On Monday, ACC Aerial Events wrote on the forum at Fence Check, an aerial photography site: “In case you have not heard the Brooklyn show has moved to Stewart IAP in Newburgh, NY.”

Air Combat Command Aerial Events is responsible for scheduling the public display of the USAF F-22A Raptor Demo and manages the USAF Heritage Flight program, both of which are scheduled to appear in the show. Kathy White, Chief of Civic Outreach Division of ACC Public Affairs replied to ATZ’s query for confirmation with a note that the show was indeed moved to Stewart International Airport.

The New York Air Show, whose logo incorporates images of the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, and was set for Coney Island’s MCU Park, has not announced the change of venue, nor has it updated its website or Facebook page. ATZ did not receive a reply to a request for comment. The next question is will “The New York City Air Show in Coney Island” on the Blue Angels schedule for August 20-21, 2016″ be in Brooklyn or Newburgh?

In 2010, another producer’s Coney Island Air Show planned for late August and featuring the USAF Thunderbirds could not get all of the necessary permits–a complicated situation by all accounts– and was cancelled. The high cost of police security for the event was also rumored to be a factor. The Thunderbirds finally removed “Brooklyn, NY” from their schedule and Air Force Week NYC went on without a Coney Island Air Show.

Coney Island air show

During the 1980s and 90s, Astroland sponsored air shows featuring Air Force, Navy and Army flyers and parachute teams. The last air show in Coney Island was in 2000.

According to the USAF Thunderbirds fact sheet, the largest crowd in USAF Thunderbirds history –2.25 million– was on July 4, 1987 at their Coney Island air show. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Astroland sponsored not only the USAF Thunderbirds but also the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute team as well as the Navy’s Blue Angels in 2000, which was the last year that Coney had an air show. The walls of Astroland’s office were emblazoned with dramatic news photos of these annual events.

Fourth of July air shows and fireworks have been a Coney tradition since the 1940s. In 1957, New York City’s delegation to the House of Representatives lobbied the Secretary of Defense for a national air show in Coney Island that would demonstrate America’s “airpower for peace.” The May event grew into Armed Forces Week with the sponsorship of the US Air Force Recruiting Services, the City of New York and the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce.

USAF Thunderbirds at Coney Island

The largest crowd in USAF Thunderbirds history was on July 4, 1987 at Coney Island where 2.25 million people watched as the Thunderbirds performed. Photo via USAF Thunderbirds

Related posts on ATZ…

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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

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