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Snowy View from Jones Walk

Snowy view from Jones Walk of Luna Park pinwheels and Deno’s Wonder Wheel. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

For the first snow of past winters, ATZ has posted Bruce Handy’s exquisite photos of snow mermaids and the pattern of snow on the slats of the wooden boardwalk. Saturday’s snow was a blizzard of 26.8 inches, making it the city’s second largest snowstorm since 1869. It’s no wonder this year’s photos are less contemplative and more action-oriented.

Coney Island Polar Bear in the snow

Coney Island Polar Bear saoking up some snow on the beach. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

After weeks of balmy weather, several members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club gathered for a frolic on the snowy beach and a blizzard dip amid crashing waves and gusty winds.
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Coney Island Polar Bears Blizzard Swim

Coney Island Polar Bears Blizzard Swim. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Want to go for a day after the blizzard swim with the Polar Bears on Sunday? You’re welcome to join as a guest. Just show up at the Bears’ “Clubhouse” at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing.

Coney Island Beach Blizzard 2016

Photographer atop berm built by the Parks Department. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Prior to the blizzard, the Parks Department built temporary berms on the beach to protect against possible coastal flooding. On Saturday afternoon, when Mayor De Blasio visited Coney Island with other elected officials, he climbed the berm to check out the waves. All was well, but he was surprised to see a jogger on the beach. A few hours earlier the Mayor might have seen a woman pushing a baby stroller along the shore. With no snow tires, it was easier for her to push the carriage in the sand than in the snow. “It was the clearest path,” says the photographer, who resides in Coney Island. “It was a Fellini moment to end the day.”

Blizzard 2016

Pushing a Baby Carriage on Coney Island Beach during Blizzard 2016. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Oh, and you couldn’t even get a hot dog in Coney Island on Saturday. The century-old Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue, which is open daily year-round, was closed due to the snow. The 24-hour Dunkin Donuts in Stillwell Terminal was among the very few businesses that remained open during the storm

storm-shuttered Nathan's

View of Surf Avenue and a storm-shuttered Nathan’s from Stillwell Terminal. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Related posts on ATZ...

January 9, 2015: Photo of the Day: Snowy Night in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

January 26, 2013: Winter’s First Snow in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

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Snow Swim

Coney Island Polar Bears Snow Swim, March 1, 2015. Photo © Bruce Handy

After weeks of balmy winter weather, members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club are ready for their first snow swim of the season on Sunday at 1:00pm. Several Bears plan to meet for an unofficial blizzard dip at Stillwell Avenue on Saturday at 12 noon during the storm.

Snow swims during or just after a storm are a Polar Bear tradition. These photos were taken by Coney Island photographer and Polar Bear Bruce Handy last year and in 2010.

Snow Swim, Blizzard of 2010

Snow Swim, Blizzard of 2010. December 26, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy

The National Weather Service has forecast 12 to 18 inches of snow and winds of 30 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph for Southern Brooklyn on Saturday. Photographer and Periscope user dutchmazz announced that he’ll be on Coney Island Beach at 11:50: “Watch the Bears swim in whiteout conditions from the comfort of your warm home! Tune in!”

Morning Update from Bruce Handy. It’s a go: “10 AM Polar Bear Report. Not too cold. Heavy numerous waves, gusting north wind, mild at times. Snow is 8″, drifts to 1.5, deep drifts beween the bathhouse and berm at Stillwell. All stores, Toms, Nathans, are closed. DD is open. Streets are getting unpassable. Sidewalks are unwalkable. Bathrooms are closed. Seagulls are serene. Few potential bears. No mermaid tracks although the grok is strong.”

UPDATE: Photos from Saturday’s swim and more in “Photo Album: Blizzard 2016 in Coney Island by Bruce Handy,” (ATZ, January 24, 2016)

Snow Swim

Snow Swim, Blizzard of 2010. December 26, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy

Related posts on ATZ…

January 8, 2016: Photo of the Day: Santa at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge by Barry Yanowitz

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

January 27, 2015: Photo Album: Coney Island’s First Hours of the Blizzard of 2015 by John Huntington

December 26, 2010: Video: Today’s Snow Swim with Coney Island Polar Bears

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

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Hazel Hankin Coney Island

Poster for Coney Island exhibit at Valentine Museum of Art. Photo of Coney Island’s Bowery in 1977 © Hazel Hankin

Coney Island has come to Flatbush Avenue -specifically, the Coney-themed work of seven photographers and two painters is on view at the Valentine Museum of Art through March 11. Photographer Larry Racioppo curated the exhibit, which grew out of a meeting with Michael Valentine, publisher of Breuckelen Magazine, to propose a special Coney Island issue. The upcoming edition of the magazine will feature interviews with each of the artists in the show.

In addition to Racioppo, the photographers are Norman Borden, Dan Burmeister, Hazel Hankin, Ron Meisel, John Rossi and Jamel Shabazz. The painters are Greg Frux and Marc Kehoe. The work spans Coney Island’s past and present, and is supplemented by archival images from the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection.

March Kehoe Coney Island

One of a series of paintings by Marc Kehoe depicting riders on Coney Island’s Spookhouse dark ride. Oil on canvas, 1987.

As a member of the Coney Island Hysterical Society in the mid-1980s, Marc Kehoe painted his “It’s Spooky” mural on the exterior wall of the group’s Spookhouse, a dark ride renovated as an art project. Both are long gone. What remains are Kehoe’s 20 canvases portraying the lurid faces of Spookhouse riders whose expressions mirror the macabre stunts that made them scream.

“Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” a concurrent exhibit at City Lore in Manhattan, which we wrote about in “Art of the Day: Remembering Spookhouse – A Ride Through Gallery in the Dark” (ATZ, November 16, 2015), showcases some of the work of CIHS artists, including Kehoe and Hazel Hankin.

Larry Racioppo

Ruins of Coney Island’s Spookhouse just before its demolition in 1997. Photo © Larry Racioppo

At VMoA, Hankin documents the Spookhouse in operation while Larry Racioppo captures it after it had closed and fallen into ruin. Racioppo, whose subjects range from revelers at the Mermaid Parade to the derelict beauty of the abandoned Thunderbolt roller coaster, took up photography in 1970. Hazel Hankin also began photographing what was left of the Coney Island of her childhood in the 1970s. Her forte is beautifully framed shots of old school concessionaires and snoozing ticket takers who have all but disappeared from the new Coney Island.

The two posters for the exhibit feature Hankin’s stunning photo of the Skydiver ride and other vanished attractions on Coney’s Bowery and Racioppo’s heartbreaking shot of the half-demolished Thunderbolt with its ramshackle cars in the foreground. The posters are available for sale via the museum’s online store.

Hazel Hankin Photography

One In Wins, 1977. Photo © Hazel Hankin

Also striking at VMoA is Jamel Shabazz‘s sympathetic documentation of the Tribute to the Ancestors of the Middle Passage, which has been held annually on Coney Island beach for more than 25 years. Attendees are encouraged to wear white and bring offerings to place in the ocean to honor the spirit of African ancestors who died during the voyage across the Atlantic where they were being taken as slaves.

Two public programs are planned at VMOA in February:

FROM BROOKLYN COLLEGE to CONEY ISLAND – Saturday, February 20th, 2pm -6 pm. Brooklyn College graduates Hazel Hankin, Larry Racioppo and John Rossi discuss/illustrate their photography careers.

TRIBUTE TO THE ANCESTORS – Saturday, February 27th, 6pm. Artist talk with Jamel Shabbaz about the history and significance of this annual event.

The Valentine Museum of Art is located in the Philip Howard Apartments, where art collector and longtime resident Michael Valentine has teamed up with the co-op’s board to activate a 5,000 square foot art gallery space. The next exhibit, in May, will feature work by BFA students from nearby Brooklyn College.

“Coney Island,” Valentine Museum of Art at Philip Howard, 1655 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210. Exhibit runs through March 11, 2016. Gallery open Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 6pm. Free admission.

Jamel Shabazz

Annual Tribute to the Ancestors of the Middle Passage in Coney Island. Photo © Jamel Shabazz.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 18, 2015: Art of the Day: Remembering Spookhouse – A Ride Through Gallery in the Dark

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

January 28, 2015: Art of the Day: Takahiro Iwasaki’s Miniature Coney Island at Asia Society

December 13, 2014: Art of the Day: David Levine’s Watercolors of Coney Island

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New Years Day Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

New Years Day Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge, January 1, 2016. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

Brooklyn photographer Barry Yanowitz grew up in Coney Island and comes home every January 1st to photograph the colorful characters at the Polar Bear Plunge. “It’s the perfect way to begin the year,” he says. You can see more of Barry’s photos from his New Year’s Day set on his website.

If you missed Santa and the New Year’s Day Plunge, you can join the Coney Island Polar Bear Club as a guest at their Sunday swims between November and April. This Sunday, the forecast is a balmy 58 degrees! Just show up at the Bears “Clubhouse” at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

November 16, 2015: Photos of the Day: Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower Lit at Sunset in France’s Tricolor

March 1, 2015: Photo of the Day: Jones Walk, Off-Season

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

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Coney Island Parachute Jump French Tricolor

Coney Island Parachute Jump –Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower– Lit at Sunset in French Tricolor. November 15, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Sunday we happened to be on the Boardwalk in Coney Island at the very moment the lights on the Parachute Jump were switched on. Known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, the Jump is being lit in France’s tricolor to show solidarity after the Paris attacks.

Although Coney’s rides are now closed for the season, the Parachute Jump’s 8000 LEDs are lit year round with lighting schemes varying by the day. occasion and season. One of our favorite shots of the Jump is through the loop of Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is on West 15th Street off the Boardwalk.

Coney Island Parachute Jump and Thunderbolt at Sunset. November 15, 2015 .  Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island Parachute Jump and Thunderbolt at Sunset. November 15, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

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

November 29, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Holidays

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

November 20, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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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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Easter Bunny Best on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Sunday Best at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Happy Easter and Happy Passover from Coney Island! While Palm Sunday is Coney Island’s season opener, it’s Easter that draws the crowds. If the weather is favorable, as we expect this Sunday–“Mostly sunny and breezy. Highs in the upper 50s,” according to the National Weather Service–the day can be as busy for the amusement ride and game operators as the Fourth of July.

In 2010, Easter was on April 4th and temps were in the 70s when we snapped these photos of New Yorkers in their Sunday best. The Boardwalk was a People’s Parade on Easter Sunday. Lines were long at ticket booths and rides were jam packed from noon till nearly midnight!

Easter Sunday, Coney Island

Easter Toddler at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While the kids are off from New York City schools through April 12, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park are open daily for Spring Break, weather permitting. The parks open at 12 noon. Coney Island’s roller coasters–the Cyclone and the Thunderbolt– will be up and running this weekend. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park has four new family rides, including a Mangels’ Whip inspired Speedway and the retro Scrambler.

Keep an eye out for “Easter fresh” outfits, including bunny headgear!

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

East in Coney Island

Easter at Steve’s Grill House on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

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