Posts Tagged ‘balloon dart’

Jerry, Ball Toss Game

Jerry, Ball Toss Game, Jones Walk. May 29, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Having grown up working behind the counter of Mom’s Balloon Dart and Dad’s Spot Game, I feel a special kinship with game operators. It’s not an easy job, especially when there’s no awning and the sun is setting in your face. If nobody plays your game, you don’t get paid. The Coney Island indie game agents whose portraits are in this photo album are survivors and jacks and jills of all trades. Jerry was a crew member on the Zipper until the ride lost its lease and was shipped to Honduras. Now he runs a ball toss game on Jones Walk and is one of the stars of Zipper, Amy Nicholson’s documentary about the rezoning and redevelopment of Coney Island.

Monica, High Striker. West 12th Street

Monica, High Striker. West 12th Street. August 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Monica, the High Striker Queen of Coney, has been on the road with traveling carnivals. In Coney Island, she was displaced several times due to changes in land ownership, yet she always manages to come back. When I worked a game on Jones Walk, Monica was a few doors down. Since then she’s been on the Bowery and is now located on West 12th Street. This is the spunky gal who told a Voice of America reporter last year that independent attractions like hers give Coney Island its soul. “Our spirit will live on long after we’re dead, honey. We are the blood, sweat and tears on the block,” said Monica in a feature about Coney’s amusement parks.

Skin the Wire

Janice, Skin the Wire, West 12th Street, Coney Island. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

What’s the difference between an agent and a clerk? Agents work their own game or for a percentage of the profits rather than an hourly wage. They don’t wear company shirts and hats. They know how to call people in to play and are adept at getting you to play some more. The key to their longevity is making sure everybody walks away happy. One of my favorite signs in Coney Island–now long demolished, but its operator is back– is WIN BIG! BIG! PRIZES FOR THE FAMILY!!!


Carolyn, Roll-A-Coaster. West 12th Street, Coney Island. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Janice and Carolyn work the games of skill on West 12th Street next to the mechanical wonders Miss Coney Island and Coney Island Always and the Coney Island History Project. Roll-A-Coaster and other ingenious games are the creation of Benny Harrison, who should be designated the Wizard of West 12th Street.

Coney Island Arcade

Manny, Coney Island Arcade Games on the Bowery. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Target the Coney Island Cat and his human, Manny Cohen of Coney Island Arcade and Games, recently left Coney’s Bowery forever. Evicted by the landlord, they moved to Las Vegas. Jimmy Balloons, who operated his Balloon Dart on the Bowery was also displaced and has since reopened on Jones Walk under the Wonder Wheel’s big neon sign.

Jimmy Balloons new Balloon Dart

Jimmy Balloons new Balloon Dart under construction in Coney Island. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita


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May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 22, 2013: Saying Goodbye to Manny and Target the Coney Island Cat

April 2, 2013: Shoot the Freak Reborn in Coney Island as Shoot the Clown

April 13, 2012: Photo of the Day: Catch 1 Ball Win This Prize

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Target the Coney Island Cat

Target the Cat & Jimmy Balloons Calling in Customers. April 5, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When we started working in Coney Island, Target the Cat was already sitting on the counter of Jimmy’s Balloon Dart on the Bowery calling the people in to play. Some girls can’t walk by without stopping to pet him and ask his name. Next thing you know they’re busting balloons and winning prizes. The gregarious cat is world-famous thanks to having posed for many photographs including one that appeared in the New York Times.

Now the six-year-old cat, who has born and raised in Coney Island’s amusement area, is about to be evicted along with his humans, who own and operate games at 1105 Bowery. Eviction notices were served on four concessionaires who run games and a food stand at 1105 Bowery. All are set to be in court on Tuesday, though it’s doubtful the cat will show up.


Target the Coney Island Cat at work. May 14, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Rumors of the evictions have been the talk of the Coney Island Rumor Mill for weeks. Whatever story you hear or read, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

The building is owned by Shore Leave LLC and Rabbit Beach LLC and Cyclone Holdings LLC and 3019 W 12TH St LLC. Property owner Jeff Persily did not reply to ATZ’s request for comment on the evictions.

Will the judge decide the tenants can stay for another season? The east side of the Bowery just won’t be the same without Target the Cat patrolling the area. This part of the Bowery is his territory. Just to be clear, although Target and his kitty companion Pretty are losing the only home they’ve ever known, they’re not up for adoption. The cats are the beloved pets of Manny Cohen, the owner of Coney Island Arcade, who has been a tenant here for 22 years.

Target the Coney Island Cat

On the Bowery with Target the Coney Island Cat, March 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Target and his late sister Targeretty were born at Spook-A-Rama in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. When a worker heard mewing and went to investigate, he found the motherless kittens. They were kept warm with a portable heater and fed with a dropper. Two weeks later, Manny Cohen adopted them and raised them at the arcade.

In May of 2010, a terrible fire destroyed the arcade on a day that workers sent by the landlord tarred the roof. Target escaped when the firemen battling the blaze cut the gates but his shy sister Targeretty died in the fire. The firemen found her in the office where she felt safe and had probably died from smoke inhalation. For weeks, Target kept searching for her in the ruins of the building and crying.

The arcade was never rebuilt and the site remains an empty lot at the corner of West 12th Street and the Bowery. The building at 1105 Bowery is adjacent to the lot and extends to Jones Walk.


Target the Coney Island Cat. February 11, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


Related Posts on ATZ…

February 21, 2011: Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat & His Friend Pretty

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May 6, 2010: Suspicious Fire at Coney Island Arcade Building

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Ghost Lettering

Ghost Lettering, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

On Sunday in Coney Island, we happened to take a few photos that are linked by end of season color and the melancholy passage of time. Last week, the ghost lettering of a forgotten arcade was revealed on the brick facade of the building on the Boardwalk at West 12th Street. As previously reported, Gyro Corner Clam Bar took down their signage and moved it to their second location on Coney Island’s Bowery. Gyro is one of the Mom and Pops which must vacate their longtime locations on the Boardwalk by November 4th.

At first we thought the lettering dated back to the old Playland Arcade and so did some of our friends. By Coney Island standards, it was the equivalent of an archaeological find! People have fond memories of Playland, which occupied the store from 1957 through 1981, according to its operator Stan Fox. But Stan informed us the ghost lettering is actually of more recent vintage: It belongs to an arcade that shared the corner with Gyro Corner for a spell in the late ’90s. You can listen to his memories of managing the Playland at this location for 20 years and other arcade stories in his audio interview in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive.

Balloon Dart

Balloon Dart, After the Season Is Over. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This weekend is Coney Island’s last of the 2011 season. The rides and games and arcades are still open, and yet this solitary Balloon Dart game has already been abandoned by its operator. As a carny kid, my first job was picking up darts and replacing busted balloons in Mom’s dart game. Although the painterly composition made me stop and take a photo, there’s something sad about seeing the remnants of the balloons left on the hooks.

Back wall at Ruby's

Back wall of Ruby's back wall... October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When you walk into Ruby’s Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk, you’ll notice the back wall is already stripped of its vintage photos of friends and fans. The task of packing up decades of memorabilia has already begun for Ruby’s owners Michael and Melody Sarrel. The photos behind the bar are still intact as you can see in the picture below. Rain or shine, Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” is scheduled for Saturday, October 29th Sunday, October 30, starting at 11 am and going on till ??? Of course, everyone is hoping for another reprieve, this time in the form of a multi-year lease from Luna Park operator Zamperla. If the deal gets done, Ruby’s owners will still have to pack up because all of the Boardwalk stores are expected to undergo extensive renovations. We’re not against renovations, we’re against loss of character. Goodbye, dear old Ruby’s! Will we recognize you if we’re lucky enough to meet again next season?

UPDATE October 27, 2011, 11:40 am

Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” was changed to Sunday, October 30, due to weather forecast for Saturday. Same time–11am till ??–same place. Check Ruby’s Facebook page for updates. Friends keep asking poignant questions that Ruby’s owners cannot possibly answer yet like “Will you be open for the first Polar Bear swim?” and “are we going for good, or just for the season????” We’ll keep on hoping, but 2012 is def not a done deal! We recommend coming out to say “Goodbye” this weekend to the seven Boardwalk Mom & Pops.


Ruby's Bar, late afternoon in October. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


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