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Archive for the ‘Souvenirs’ Category

It’s only 25 days till Christmas and 111 days till Coney Island’s Opening Day on Palm Sunday, which is March 20 next year! Know somebody who can’t wait? Get ’em a Coney Island-themed gift that can be enjoyed year round.

Coney Island. Yale University Press

Coney Island. Yale University Press

At the top of ATZ’s Coney Island gift guide is the sumptuous catalog ($50) for Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland. The traveling exhibit opened this month at the Brooklyn Museum and runs through March 13. Published by Yale Press, this beautifully designed art book — 304 pages, with 228 color plates and 77 b/w illustrations– is a pleasure to own, whether you live close enough to catch the show or not. Essays by exhibition curator Robin Jaffee Frank; John Kasson, whose book Amusing the Million inspired the title of this blog; film scholars Charles Musser and Josh Glick; and Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson on the future of Coney Island are illuminating.

Ci Gift Guide John Huntington Calendar

John Huntington’s Coney Calendar

Enjoy Coney Island’s beach, boardwalk and amusement parks 365 days next year with John Huntington’s 2016 Coney Island calendar ($20). The Brooklyn-based photographer crowdsourced votes on his best shots and successfully raised $3,261 with 62 backers on Kickstarter to fund the project. Among our faves are Scream Zone’s gate on a snowy night (January), Wonder Wheel Park’s midway (July), and people watching fireworks on the beach (August). Visit John’s website to preview and buy the calendar or prints of the photos.

Famous Nathan now on DVD

Famous Nathan now on DVD

Fans of Nathan’s, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, will enjoy Lloyd Handwerker’s documentary about his grandfather, the founder of Nathan’s Famous hot dog empire. Recently released on DVD ($24.95), the documentary is told through home movies, archival photos and footage, the filmmaker’s interviews with a colorful cast of characters including family members and former Nathan’s workers, and the voice of Famous Nathan himself. As we wrote in a review when the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, the cadence of Nathan’s voice and his story reverberate in the imagination even after the film is over: “I want to go to America. I was dreaming about it.” In addition to telling an insider’s history of this Coney Island institution, the film is a wonderful family memoir.

Cyclone Pendant by Philomena Marano

Cyclone Pendant by Philomena Marano

Artist Philomena Marano, who is known for her bold and colorful cut paper collages of Coney Island’s amusement rides and signs has wearable art and wall art for sale in her Etsy shop “PhiloMania.” Stylish pendants featuring her art prints of Coney’s landmark rides and iconic signage are $30. Souvenir prints made from her American Dreamland series are $25. While the best selection is online, Philomena’s work is also available in Coney Island at Brooklyn Beach Shop and Coney Island USA, as well as at City Lore in the East Village, where her art is featured in the exhibit “Boardwalk Renaissance.”

Coney Island Carousel

Coney Island Carousel, oil on panel, by Nancy Prusinowski

Coney Island USA’s Sodom by the Sea Salon showcases the work of more than 75 artists, including painters Marc Kehoe, Eric March, Nancy Prusinowski, Chris Spinelli and Morgan Taylor; watercolorists Rose Nizami, Amanda Reilly, and Johanna Gargiulo Sherman; illustrator Sarah Beetson; and photographer members of the People’s Playground Paparazzi. The pieces range in price from $50 to $2,300, with the majority in the $200-$400 range. The free exhibit runs through February 7 at CIUSA’s Shooting Gallery/Arts Annex, 1214 Surf Avenue, and is open weekends, 1pm-4:30pm. Head next door or online to CIUSA’s gift shop for more art, as well as clothing, glassware and souvenirs.

Coney Mugs at Lola Star Boutique

Coney Mugs at Lola Star Boutique

Lola Star’s souvenir boutiques in Coney Island have a satellite location at Rockaway Beach as well as an online store stocked with her unique designs. Coney-themed mugs graced with swimmers, lovebirds, anchors or sayings like “Everything I Know I Learned in Brooklyn” cost $10. Stocking stuffers include a Coney Island snowglobe ($8), an authentic Brooklyn hot dog onesie for the baby ($20), and Lola Star T-shirts galore for kids of all ages and adults ($20). 1205 Boardwalk West, 718-975-0583.

Warriors and mermaid tees at Brooklyn Beach Shop

Warriors and mermaid tees at Brooklyn Beach Shop

From November through April, Coney Island’s beach belongs to the Polar Bears, but souvenirs of summer can still be found at Brooklyn Beach Shop on the Boardwalk. Warriors, mermaid, and various other Coney-themed tees come in an array of designs and colors. You can also find books such as Coney Island and Astroland by Charles Denson and Michael Stallings’ 500-piece jigsaw puzzle depicting summer at the amusement park. 1223 Boardwalk West, 718-676-0939.

Marshmallow treats and candy apples at Williams Candy

Marshmallow treats and candy apples at Williams Candy

Williams Candy, Coney Island’s last remaining Mom and Pop candy shop since Philip’s lost their space in Stillwell Terminal, is owned by the Agrapides family and has been on Surf Avenue for over 75 years. Their homemade marshmallow treats ($12 per dozen) and candy apples ($18 per dozen) are the quintessential Coney Island dessert after a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous, which is next door. While there is no mail order, Williams will cater your party and is open daily year round. Our favorites are their caramel marshmallow sticks with toasted coconut and chocolate caramel marshmallow sticks with chocolate sprinkles. 1318 Surf Avenue, 718-372-0302.

Polar Bear Plunge

I Did It! New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Now that we’re past Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday, and Cyber Monday is nearly over, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. A membership or donation to support one of Coney Island’s non-profit attractions — New York Aquarium, Coney Island History Project and Coney Island USA–is a gift that gives back all year long.

Start off the New Year by joining the 112-year-old Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s January 1st Polar Bear Dip at 1pm. This hugely popular event is also a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer vacation. On New Year’s Day 2015, the Club raised more than $70K for the charity and they hope to meet or beat that amount in 2016. You and your friends can register online now and pledge a donation or help other participants meet their fundraising goals here. On the day of the event, the Polar Bears will also have a table on the boardwalk, where you can register for the Plunge and buy Polar Bear Hoodies and T-shirts.

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Brooklyn Rock

Brooklyn Rock, 3015 Stillwell Avenue, in Coney Island. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

“The French have never left,” says Brooklyn Rock brand manager Seth Braunstein when ATZ asks where the year-round tourists who visit his Coney Island shop are coming from. Located across Stillwell Avenue from Nathan’s Famous, which is also open daily regardless of the season or the weather, this one-of-a-kind shop is one of the few places in Coney to buy a souvenir tee in February.

What makes Brooklyn Rock’s tees out of the ordinary, says Braunstein, is that each one of the shirts is hand-dyed in unique colors and hand-printed from hand-drawn designs by artists Chris Smith and Yukiko Wada, the couple who founded the business in 2002. “We start with white American Apparel tees made in the U.S. out of cotton grown in the U.S,” he says. In the afternoon sunlight, the colors are especially vibrant and conjure up summery dreams on a wintry day.

Brooklyn Rock

Paintings of the Elephant Hotel and the Parachute Jump by Yukiko Wada, hand-screened Tees by Wada and husband Chris Smith. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s landmark Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump feature prominently in the designs along with the magical place names CONEY and BROOKLYN. Among the signature sayings printed on Brooklyn Rock’s tees are “Brooklyn, Entertaining Manhattan since 1646” and “Keep Brooklyn Offensive.”

Famous faces on their tees include Brooklyn-born comedian and Seinfeld writer Larry David, whose people once bought one for him, Braunstein says with pride. “Tonight, one of our people will be sitting in the third row wearing the Larry David tee at the preview performance of his Broadway show.”

Brooklyn Rock’s tees, hoodies, hats, totes, knapsacks, aprons and other hand-printed items range in price from $15-$60.

One specialty at Brooklyn Rock that you may not expect to find in Coney Island is their book rack, which is stocked with gently read copies of classics by Ayn Rand to Kurt Vonnegut. The used books come from their friends at Williamsburg’s Book Thug Nation and Bushwick’s Human Relations, whom they’ve known since their days as fellow street vendors. Books are priced at $5 and $8.

Hand-Printed Tee at Brooklyn Rock

Sleeveless Hand-printed Coney Tee at Brooklyn Rock in Coney Island. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Before opening their Coney Island store in May 2013, the Brooklyn Rock team wholesaled to children’s shops and Coney Island USA’s gift shop. They set up shop in a street kiosk on Bedford Avenue, a shipping container at the now defunct DeKalb Market, and a store across from Barclays Center, where foot traffic turned out to be slow.

Their Coney Island store is in Thor Equities’ retail building at Surf and Stillwell, where current tenants include It’Sugar, Rainbow Shops, Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co., the Brooklyn Nets Shop, a couple of mini-arcades and the soon-to open Wahlburgers franchise. Only It’Sugar and Brooklyn Rock remain open year round. How did this Bushwick-born Mom and Pop get their foot in the door?

Brooklyn Rock

Hand-printed shirt at Brooklyn Rock on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. November 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Brooklyn Rock’s lucky break came when Braunstein saw a news article about space for lease in Thor’s then-vacant new building and sent them a proposal. Thor Equities had sent out a press release that said: “Thor To Add Local Flavor To Coney Island By Leasing Major Surf Avenue Parcels To Local Brooklyn Merchants At Reduced Rents For 2013.”

We remember it well. For ATZ, the biggest surprise of the release was what Thor CEO Joe Sitt had to say about chains vs local businesses: “Coney Island’s popularity has reached record proportions, but we can never forget what got us here – local, ahead-of-their-time business owners who brought flair, hipness and edge to the People’s Playground,” Sitt said. “While it is wonderful that national chains are now coming to Coney, providing needed jobs and year-round revenue to the community, we must always remember the history of this iconic neighborhood.”

Hear, hear!

Brooklyn Rock, 3015 Stillwell Avenue, between Surf Ave and the Bowery, Coney Island, 11224. Winter hours are 12 noon till 7pm.

UPDATE: This store has closed! Read “Thor’s Coney Island: Brooklyn Mom & Pop Out But Not Down” (February 25, 2015) for details.

Hand-printed Tees and Hats at Brooklyn Rock

Hand-printed Tees, Totes and Hats at Brooklyn Rock. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

January 22, 2015: Coney Island Rumor Mill: No Rides But Games, Food & Merch Coming to Thor’s Lot

November 28, 2014: ATZ Previews Coney Island’s Small Business Saturday

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

Read Full Post »

Find the perfect holiday gift for the Coney aficionado on your list with ATZ’s 12 Days of Coney Island Christmas Gift Guide. Like the People’s Playground itself, some of the selections are seasonal pleasures, while others can be enjoyed year round. All can be purchased online.

Polar Bear Plunge

I Did It! New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

The 111-year-old Coney Island Polar Bear Club has hats, T-shirts, hoodies and blankets ($15-$40) sporting their bear-y adorable logo for sale online. The blanket will come in handy if you plan to join the annual January 1st Polar Bear Dip. Did you know this hugely popular event is also a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer vacation?

You and your friends can register online now and pledge a donation to this year’s plunge or help participants like “Cold Is The New Hot!!!” and Lutheran Medical Center’s “Team Spartacus” meet their fundraising goals here. Seven per cent of the $50,000 goal has been raised as of December 9th. Any plunger raising $100 or more will receive a long sleeve Freezin’ for a Reason shirt. Participants over 21 also will receive a limited edition “The Plunge” pint glass, compliments of Coney Island Brewing Company, and an invitation to an after party with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club at Peggy O’Neill’s on Surf Avenue.

Frozen custard

Frozen custard from Rita’s Italian Ice

Rita’s of Coney Island is closed till spring but sells gift cards ($5-$100) online year-round. When store owner Ezra Shalam opened the Rita’s franchise this year on Surf Avenue, he brought genuine frozen custard back home to the place of its origin. The dessert made its debut in 1919 when the Kohr brothers opened a stand on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The nickel treat was a sensation, selling 18,460 cones on the first weekend! Rita’s menu also offers Italian ice, layered gelati, sundaes with a choice of 20 toppings, sugar-free treats, and items that blend Italian ice with frozen custard.

Coney Island Snow Globe

Coney Island Snow Globe, Lola Star Boutique

Lola Star’s souvenir boutique, which started out on the Coney Island Boardwalk in 2000, has a satellite location on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg as well as an online store stocked with her unique designs. This Coney Island Snow Globe features a mermaid amid miniature versions of the amusement area’s landmark rides ($8). For the same price you can also get a Coney lovebird-themed mousepad. Other stocking stuffers include shot glasses ($6) and an array of Lola Star T-shirts for kids of all ages and adults. Disappointed the games are closed and you can’t spend money to win a plush toy? Order a Hello Kitty Coney Cupcake or Polka Dotted Octopus ($7-$10).

Brooklyn Cyclones

The Brooklyn Cyclones’ Foam Hand

Since Brooklyn Cyclones’ tickets for the 2015 season won’t go on sale till next year, you could write an I.O.U. and drop it in the Christmas stocking. Or buy the fans something they can get their hands on now: A Foam Hand in Christmas-y red or blue with a #1 emblazoned on the index finger and the Cyclones’ roller coaster logo on each side ($7.99). A plush snow bear ornament sporting a Cyclones scarf and a red hat ($11.99) and Cyclones apparel are also available at their online store along with merch for the Brooklyn Bolts, the team that brought pro football back to Brooklyn for the first time since the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946.

Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride

Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride

“A small-time ride operator and his beloved carnival contraption become casualties in the battle over the future of Coney Island” is the capsule description of Amy Nicholson’s documentary Zipper, which is available on DVD for just $10 via the film’s online store.. Read ATZ’s review of the film here and see the trailer here. The Deluxe Edition DVD ($20) has Spanish subtitles plus a few extras: A 15-minute movie of the film crew’s trip to Honduras to find the Zipper, where it was sold after being evicted from Coney Island, and a short funny “adult” story by Zipper crew members Joey and Don. Through January 1st, the store is offering a free Zipper tote with a two item purchase.

Ruby's shirt

Red Ruby’s Bar & Grill Tee

In 1975, Ruby Jacobs bought the Hebrew National Deli and Bar on the boardwalk, which had opened in 1934, and turned it into Ruby’s Bar and Restaurant. This summer, his daughter and son-in-law and their kids, who run the place, marked the beloved hang-out’s 80th anniversary. These red Ruby’s T-shirts ($20) with “Celebrating 80 Years” on the back are among the Ruby’s souvenirs in the bar’s online store. “As is our tradition, we WILL be open for the Polar Bear Club’s annual plunge on New Year’s Day,” says a post on their Facebook page.”Ruby’s is looking forward to seeing you again in 2015!”

Steeplechase horse

Steeplechase horse at the Coney Island History Project

An original Steeplechase horse from one of Coney’s first thrill rides is among the rare artifacts on view at the Coney Island History Project. The history organization offers 1-1/2 hour walking tours ($20 per person) year-round that include a private visit to their exhibit center during the off-season. Advance tickets for 2015 may be purchased online. Walking tours are based on History Project director Charles Denson’s classic book Coney Island: Lost and Found ($29.95), which along with other publications is available on the History Project’s website.

Paul's Daughter

Paul’s Daughter Tee from Brooklyn Brewery

While Papa Burger, an A & W Root Beer figure from the 1960s, still anchors the Luna Park side of Paul’s Daughter’s rooftop, Mama Burger was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The eight-foot-tall fiberglass figure got knocked over — at first she was thought to be missing– and her hamburger and Brooklyn Brewery mug blew away. The Brewery has come up with a T-shirt to pay tribute to Mama Burger ($25) and raise funds toward her restoration. “They have a real love for Mama Burger,” says Paul’s Daughter Tina Georgoulakos, who recalls how one day her father took a Brooklyn Brewery sign and stuck it on the figure’s beer mug. “I have to find people who can restore her.”

Beer Book

28 Beers at 28 Bars for $28

Brokelyn.com’s The South Brooklyn and The Rockaways Beer Book ($28) has vouchers for 28 beers at 28 bars including Coney Island’s Freak Bar, Peggy O’Neill’s and Ruby’s Bar & Grill. So that’s $1.00 a beer! The other 25 vouchers are an enticement to bar hop to Bay Ridge, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay, Sunset Park, and Rockaway.

The Tickler, A Wild Mouse style coaster, at Luna Park. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusement parks open for the 2015 season on Palm Sunday, March 29th. Though Luna Park is currently closed for a winter’s nap, the park is offering a December discount on pre-ordered wristbands. Customers who buy one wristband for $32 get a second one free. The deal offers unlimited access to 22 rides at Luna Park for a 4 hour period. Extreme thrill rides, such as the Cyclone and Thunderbolt, and the B&B Carousell are not included on the wristband. Check website for details.

Sea Otter NY Aquarium

Sea Otter at NY Aquarium. Photo © Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

While recovering from Sandy and building the new “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” exhibit, scheduled to open in spring 2016, the New York Aquarium remains open 365 days a year. Gift memberships help the Wildlife Conservation Society save wildlife and wild places worldwide and start at $75. Benefits include free admission to the Aquarium as well as the Bronx Zoo and three other zoos in the City. One of the perks of premium membership ($119-$189) is free parking in the Aquarium’s lot, which is a very desirable perk for frequent visitors to Coney Island.

Mermaid Parade

The first bribe of the Mermaid Parade? The Chief Justice pouring rum. Photo © Tricia Vita

It’s time to deck the halls with boughs of holly, but is anyone else dreaming of summer? It’s not too early to buy a judgeship for the annual Mermaid Parade, which is Saturday, June 20, 2015. Parade organizer and arts org Coney Island USA’s $150 Big Spender membership entitles the giftee to be an official Judge of the Mermaid Parade with VIP seating on the reviewing stand and a Mermaid Parade Judge T-shirt. Oh, and partake in the bribes offered to the judges by the paraders: beer, vodka, more beer, chocolate cake, beer, lubricants, play money, glow in the dark octopus toy, more beer, more vodka, lemonade, rum balls, and finally more beer. It’s no wonder the judgeships are “sold out” well before the parade. Memberships support arts programming at CIUSA and start at $35 with benefits including free admission to the freak show.

Happy Holidays to All!

Related posts on ATZ…

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

December 13, 2013: Photo Album: Gingerbread Coney Island in City Harvest Extravaganza

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

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

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