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B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

The large-scale neon letters spelling B & B CAROUSELL with a double L, of course, went up on the historic ride’s new pavilion on the Boardwalk today. Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project happened to be there to take this spectacular series of photographs. On Friday morning, the grand opening of Steeplechase Plaza and the return of the 1919 carousel to Coney Island will be celebrated by Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials, local residents and invited guests. The carousel was saved from the auction block in 2005, when the Mayor came to Coney Island for a hastily arranged press conference to announce the City would purchase the ride for $1.8 million.

B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

“Dozens of carousels have left Coney Island forever but the B&B Carousell is the only one to actually leave and come back,” said Denson, when the first restored horse was exhibited last May at the Coney Island History Project. B&B is short for Bishoff and Brienstein, who brought the carousel back home to Coney Island from New Jersey’s Bertrand Island in 1932. The frame was the work of Coney’s William F. Mangels Carousell Works and the carvings were done by Charles Carmel except for the lead horse by M.C. Illions. Jimmy McCullough and Mike Saltzstein owned and operated the ride since the 1970s. Welcome home to the B&B!

B&B Carousell Pavilion

B&B Carousell Pavilion. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

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Kiddie Ferris Wheel

Kiddie Ferris Wheel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island. June 14, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Black Friday is here and it’s time to shop for toys to put under the Christmas tree. If the tree is growing in your backyard, a kiddie ride would fit just fine though you’d better check zoning regulations. Generations of kids have grown up riding this little Ferris Wheel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park on the Bowery at West 12th Street in Coney Island, but now it’s for sale. As previously reported by ATZ, the family-owned park closed in September after fifty years when the owners weren’t able to come to a lease agreement with property owner Thor Equities. The park’s rides are being offered for sale by usedrides.com. The Wheel is ten grand and the much-photographed Bumblebees are $42,000. Among the other rides are a Mini-Himalaya ($17,000), Alan Herschell Carousel ($50,000) and Zamperla Rockin’ Tug ($42,000). The rides were moved to the broker’s lot in Greer, South Carolina.

Although McCullough’s Kiddie Park has operated on 12th Street since the 1960s, the family’s history in Coney Island goes back much further. Four generations of McCulloughs have owned and operated amusement rides here. They are related to the Tilyou family of Steeplechase Park as well as to the Stubbmann family, whose Coney Island carousel became part of the one in Flushing Meadows. The McCulloughs are also the former owners of the B&B Carousell, which will reopen in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza next year. It’s sad that McCullough’s is closing and that Coney is losing another indie operator. They will be missed and so will their bees. But Coney Island isn’t losing all of its kiddie rides: Deno’s Kiddie Park on the Boardwalk has 17 rides for children, including the beloved Mangels Pony Cart and Fire Engine, and will reopen in the spring.

Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

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May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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B&B Carousell

The B&B Carousell’s first restored horse returns to Coney Island! Photo © Coney Island History Project via flickr

This sweet pony, the first restored horse from the B&B Carousell, looks happy to be back in Coney Island! What’s his or her name? That will be up to the popular vote on Facebook. At the moment “Cotton Candy” and “Ravishing Ruby” are the front runners. “Home Sweet Home,” “Thunderbolt,” “Tornado,” and “In Memory of Mike Saltzstein,” who operated the carousel for decades, are some of the other suggested names.

There’s also “William,” for the carousel’s builder William F Mangels, and “Marcus,” for Marcus Illions, the carver of the lead horse. This horse, as well as the others, was carved by Charles Carmel.

The name “Ravishing Ruby” is being championed by Brooklyn-born actress Annabella Sciorra, who writes on her Facebook page: “They’re looking to name the first restored carousel horse in Coney Island. If you like my page please vote for the name ‘Ravishing Ruby’ after one of my best friends who grew up on the beaches of Coney Island!!” Ravishing Ruby is also the title of a country song from the ’70s! Our guess is that some who are voting for the name are associating it with Coney’s beloved Ruby’s Bar and Grill.

“Cotton Candy” is a cute choice, but please be advised if it wins that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bring actual cotton candy on the ride.

Inspired by the creative names of the horses at the Kentucky Derby, which was run yesterday, ATZ’s choice is “Home Sweet Home.” We think it’s the perfect name since this B&B horse is the first to come home to Coney from Ohio, where the carousel has been undergoing restoration, after an absence of seven years. Go, Go, Go, Home Sweet Home!

As for “Mikey” or “In Memory of Mike Saltzstein,” we agree with a commenter on the voting page who writes: “May the last horse in be named ‘In Memory of Mike Saltzstein.’ Mike kept those horses going … God rest his soul.”

Today is the second and final day of the B&B Carousell Open House presented by the City’s Economic Development Corporation at the Coney Island History Project, where you can get your picture taken with the horse and cast your vote in person. If you live too far away to visit, you can still vote on Facebook to name the horse.

The B&B Carousell is also in a very competitive online horse race with 40 historic properties for a share of $3 million from Partners in Preservation. New Yorkers as well as anyone who loves New York may cast one vote daily on the Partners in Preservation New York City website or via Facebook, smartphone or tablet.

UPDATE May 7, 2012:

Congratulations to Dano Panariello, who suggested the name “Ravishing Ruby” in honor of his mother! The Open House and the naming contest are over, but everybody please remember to vote for the B&B Carousell every day thru May 21 at Partners in Preservation, where it is in a horse race to win a grant.

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B & B Carousell

B & B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night the Empire State Building was lit up blue and white in honor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was a prelude to this morning’s announcement that New York City has been selected as the location for Partners in Preservation 2012. American Express, in partnership with the National Trust, will award $3 million to preserve historic places in New York City. Coney Island’s B & B Carousell is one of 40 competitors vying for your online vote.

From April 26 through May 21, New Yorkers as well as anyone who loves New York may cast one vote daily on the Partners in Preservation New York City website or via Facebook, smartphone or tablet. According to the initiative’s press release, the top four vote-getters, to be announced May 22, are guaranteed to receive grants for their preservation projects. A Partners in Preservation advisory committee of community and preservation leaders will select sites that will receive the rest of the $3 million in grants.

On May 5 and 6, the Coney Island History Project is hosting a “B & B Carousell Open House” where the first restored horse will be on display along with photos of the restoration process and archival images of the carousel. The historic carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased it for $1.8 million. The 1919 ride was packed up and moved from its longtime location on the north side of Surf Avenue and sent to Carousels & Carvings in Ohio for restoration.

The Partners in Preservation grant would fund transport and assembly from the restoration in Ohio back to New York. In 2013, the B & B will reopen in a new pavilion next to the Parachute Jump.

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December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

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Forest Park Carousel

The Forest Park Carousel. June 12, 2008. Photo © Rorrises via flickr

On Tuesday, the City’s Parks Department issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) to renovate, operate and maintain the antique carousels in Flushing Meadows Park and Forest Park in Queens for a 15-year term. It’s the fourth go-round for an RFP to run the Forest Park Carousel, which has been shuttered since September 2008, and the second for Flushing Meadows. Parks did not receive any proposals for their first two RFPs for the Forest Park ride, though there were responses to the most recent RFP in April, which also included the Flushing Meadows Carousel.

After the last RFP was issued in April, a Parks Department spokesman said there were no suitable proposals, according to Project Woodhaven, a local website that has been advocating for the reopening of their neighborhood carousel. Here’s a video they made on the occasion of the site tour in April 2011. Let’s hope the fourth time round is the charm for Forest Park!

The Forest Park ride was manufactured in Philadelphia in 1910 and is one of two Daniel Muller carousels still in operation. “In his dedication to reality, Muller would carve stitching holes in the saddles and insert heavy thread to give the illusion that real leather had been used,” writes William Manns in Painted Ponies: American Carousel Art. “”His Indian Ponies were adorned with lifelike feathers and his saddles and bridles sometimes were carved to resemble tooled leather.”

The Flushing Meadows Carousel has a Coney Island pedigree. It is the work of amusement ride inventor and manufacturer William F Mangels and developer of the “Coney Island style of carousel wood carving” Marcus C Illions. The ride is comprised of two Coney island carousels that were combined and brought to Queens for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. The frame, organ, chariots and 47 horses are from the Stubbman Carousel (1908) and 24 horses are from the Feltman Carousel (1903).

Flushing Meadows Carousel

Flushing Meadows Carousel. May 9, 2009. Photo © agent j loves agent a via flickr

Close-up photos of some of Muller’s and Illions’ carvings may be viewed on the “Carousels: Queens” page of RoadsideArchitecture.com

How much can a concessionaire expect to make operating the two Queens carousels? In 2008, the Forest Park Carousel had gross receipts of $72,000. The guaranteed annual fee to Parks was $20,000 or 10 per cent of gross receipts. In previous years the annual fee ranged from $15,000 to $17,500. In 2010 – 2011, the Flushing Meadows Carousel had gross receipts of $160,554 for carousel rides, $76,824 for food sales, $37,205 for toy sales, and $1,036 for special events. The guaranteed annual fee to Parks was $80,000 or 10 per cent of gross receipts.

According to the current RFP, “In the last agreement, the fee paid to Parks was the higher of the minimum annual fee or percentage of gross receipts. However, in responding to this request for proposal, proposers should express their fee offer only as a flat fee, and not on a percentage of gross receipts.”

 Flushing Meadows Carousel

A busy day at the carousel in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, June 1968. Courtesy of the Parks Department Photo Archive

Here’s the hitch: the City requires a substantial investment from the operator, who is responsible for all costs associated with the renovation, operation, and maintenance of the antique rides and their pavilions. According to an article in last week’s Queens Chronicle, the cost of renovation work on the Forest Park Carousel adds up to about $150,000. But there is already one potential proposer: Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) recently met with the Parks Department and reps from Independence Residences Inc., an area nonprofit interested in operating the carousel, the paper reported.

Proposals for the current RFP, which may include the option to develop and operate a “family amusement venue” at Forest Park and “children’s amusement rides” and mobile food units and souvenir carts at Flushing Meadows Park are due on January 27, 2012. An on-site proposer meeting and site tour will be held at both locations on January 12th.

Last month the City’s Parks Department also issued an RFP to operate and maintain the restored B & B Carousell at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Plaza next to the landmark Parachute Jump. Proposals to operate the B & B are due on January 17, 2012. (Update: On December 30th, Parks sent out an addendum to provide a website where available plans may be downloaded and extended the deadline for the B & B to January 30th)

carousel tiger

Forest Park Carousel Tiger. Courtesy of the Parks Department Photo Archive

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December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

February 26, 2010: Made in Brooklyn: The World’s Only Jet-Powered Merry-Go-Round

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B & B Carousell

Painting and signage at B & B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Wanna grab the brass ring in the new Coney Island? New York City is seeking an operator for Coney’s historic B & B Carousell, which was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased the ride for $1.8 million. If you fancy the idea of running it, there’s a proposers meeting on Tuesday at 11 am at the Arsenal in Central Park that you shouldn’t miss. Last month the City’s Parks Department issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) to operate and maintain the restored 1919 carousel at the new Steeplechase Plaza next to the landmark Parachute Jump. Proposals to operate the B & B are due on January 17, 2012. (December 30, 2011 Update: Parks sent out an addendum today to provide a website where available plans may be downloaded and extended the deadline to January 30th)

In the RFP, the $2.00 ticket price for a whirl on the Central Park Carousel is cited as a point of reference for proposers. In 2009, the Central Park Carousel took in $188,123 and the concession fee there is $7,500 per month, according to the New York Post. You may not get rich selling tickets, but the ten-year lease for the B & B also includes a food service facility, merchandise kiosks, vending machines and a special event room, which is expected to be a popular spot for birthday parties.

B & B Carousell

B & B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The carousels in Central Park and Prospect Park as well as the horses on the Flushing Meadows Carousel were all relocated from Coney Island, which once had dozens of operating carousels. B & B is short for Bishoff and Brienstein, who brought the carousel back home to Coney Island from New Jersey’s Bertrand Island in 1932. The frame was the work of Coney’s William F. Mangels Carousell Works and the carvings were done by Charles Carmel. Jimmy McCullough and Mike Saltzstein owned and operated the ride since the 1970s.

These snapshots of the B & B were taken with a film camera in August 2005 after the City purchased the carousel. It was the last time that we saw the B & B. The ride was soon packed up and moved from its longtime location on the north side of Surf Avenue and sent to Ohio for restoration. A fairground art collector once told us that the scenic art gracing the B & B and its pavilion was the work of August Wolfinger, a German immigrant who worked closely with Mangels. As a banner painter he was known as “The Michelangelo of the Midway.” Some of the medallions and signs shown in the photos will be back on view when the B & B reopens in Steeplechase Plaza in 2013. The ride will be installed in a glass pavilion with large-scale neon lettering spelling B & B CAROUSELL with a double L, of course.

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May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

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During the golden age of the carousel, Coney Island had as many as 12 or 15 hand-carved carousels spinning at the same time and many of them were manufactured here in Brooklyn. Master carousel builders and carvers included Charles Looff on Bedford Avenue, M.C. Illions and Sons Carousell Works on Ocean Parkway, and Stein & Goldstein and William F. Mangels in Coney Island.

Feivel’s Flying Horses, written by Heidi Smith Hyde with illustrations by Johanna van der Sterre, is a work of historical fiction that pays homage to Jewish immigrant woodcarvers like Marcus Illions, Solomon Stein, Harry Goldstein and Charles Carmel. The picture book takes its inspiration from the American Folk Art Museum exhibition “Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel,” which explored the previously unexamined association between Jewish immigrant woodcarvers and the American carousel industry.

The hero of Feivel’s Flying Horses journeys to America with five dollars in his pocket in search of a better life. Having made his living in the old country carving the reading desks that held the Torah scrolls and other ornate objects, he finds work as a furniture maker on the Lower East Side and then as a carousel carver in Coney Island. Memories of the family he left behind fire his imagination. Feivel dedicates a carousel horse to his wife and goes on to create horses for each of his four children. He carves their names into the saddles. By the time the carousel is finished, Feivel has earned enough money to send for his family. It’s touching how he declines to go for a first spin until his wife and children arrive in America and can join him for a celebratory ride on their Coney Island carousel.

Carousels remain the classic children’s ride and are a delightful subject for a children’s picture book. Feivel’s Flying Horses adds ethnic and cultural interest by telling the story of the making of a carousel through the immigrant experience. The folk art-inspired illustrations are warm and nostalgic. At the same time, the details convey the resplendence of the Coney Island style carousel. Author and illustrator previously teamed up on Mendel’s Accordion, the winner of the 2008 Sugarman Family Award for Best Jewish Children’s Book. The publisher specializes in books with Jewish themes, including other works of historical fiction such as Annie Shapiro and the Clothing Workers Strike and Zishe, the Strongman, based on the life of circus strong man.

Feivel’s Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde with illustrations by Johanna van der Sterre. Ages 5-9, Grades K-3. 32 pages. Published by Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. Hardcover, $17.95. Paperback, $7.95.

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

October 25, 2009: Traveler: Bryant Park’s Beguiling Carousel Is Awhirl for the Holidays

June 8, 2009: Coney Island Rides: Tug Boat and Carousel in McCullough’s Kiddie Park

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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