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June 4: In readiness for today's tent raising, the support structures for the Ringling Circus tent join the Parachute Jump on the Coney Island skyline. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

June 4: In readiness for today

photo via rbbbconeyisland, flickr

This morning in Coney Island, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus raised their tent for the upcoming Coney Island Boom-A-Ring Circus on a newly paved lot. Just a few blocks away Thor Equities still tentless flea market’s dirt lot was flooded. A notice on Thor’s Festival by the Sea website said “Closed Due to Bad Weather.” This is a tale of poor site prep and planning by Thor’s team vs. excellent site prep work and planning by the Ringling folks.

Since May 15 a construction crew has been at work on the Circus’s 21st Street site adjacent to the Childs Building on the Boardwalk. The dirt lot was blacktopped and floodlights were installed in preparation for Coney Island Boom-A-Ring’s June 18 opening night. The transformation of the empty lot is documented on Ringling’s flickr set called Renovating the Coney Island Boom A Ring Site. In April the Bay News reported that Taconic Investment Partners, the owner of the property, donated $100,000 toward site prep work as well as the use of the land rent-free.

As May turned to June, dirt turned to blacktop -- and lighting for the Ringling Circus site in Coney Island was being installed. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

As May turned to June, dirt turned to blacktop -- and lighting for the Ringling Circus site in Coney Island was being installed. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

photo via rbbbconeyisland, flickr

A press release from Feld Entertainment said:

Traveling nearly 3,500 miles from Mobile Stadiums, Ltd. in Sheffield, England, to Coney Island, the state-of-the-art air-conditioned main tent is approximately 28,842 sq. ft. and will seat 2,400 patrons for each performance. The foyer tent, which will house the food court, is approximately 8,625 sq. ft. Both will be the most visible cornerstones of Feld Entertainment’s major site renovation. Throughout the process, Feld has worked closely with lot owner Taconic Investment Partners, whose cooperation has been instrumental in bringing The Greatest Show On Earth to Coney Island.

Meanwhile a few blocks away in Sittland West (Joe Sitt’s property at Stillwell Ave & Bowery), Thor Equities flea market was closed today because the rock-strewn dirt lot is waterlogged due to the recent rain. Now that it’s a pool of water perhaps Joe Sitt should consider bringing back the Bumper Boats, which he evicted along with the other longtime amusements in 2007 to get an early start on “site prep work”. What site prep work? Pablo Jonsey posted pix and wrote on the Coney Island Message Board:

The site is now flooded with no drains for the rain water. The concrete footings have formed a huge bathtub, with no place for the water to go. The first thing Ringlings Circus group did, after paving the site with asphalt was to install drains connected to the NYC sewer system.

Sitt’s engineering company, which happens to be located in the same building I work in midtown, is a joke. They design the tent supports incorrectly and don’t even look for underground drainage.

Last month ATZ reported on the postponed grand opening of Thor’s tentless flea due to “threat of bad weather” and C of O problems. Last Sunday afternoon I strolled through Thor’s Festival by the Flea (not a typo) to find approximately 35 vendors displaying their wares under the tentless structure on the east side of Stillwell. The entertainment at Thor’s self-described “uniquely entertaining and amusing marketplace” consisted of a band and two Disney mascots. Is that all it takes to make the flea market legal in Coney’s C-7 amusement zone?

DVDS for sale at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

DVDS for sale at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Many vendors were first-timers drawn by the steeply discounted fee of $25 per day. The regular fees listed on the festival’s website range from $100-$525 per day on a weekend. On a table at the entrance I picked up a flier offering a two-fer—-introduce a friend and get two spaces for $25. Tables and chairs cost extra. Wear rubber hip waders.

Thors poor site prep: The rock strewn dirt lot is hard on sandaled feet. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Thor's poor site prep: The rock strewn dirt lot is hard on sandaled feet. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

June 7, 2009: Sundown at Thor’s Unamusing “Festival by the Sea” Flea

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Cha-Chas Schedule of Events, photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

Cha-Cha's Schedule of Events, photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

We heard all about the East Coast-West Coast rivalry between Dick Zigun’s Coney Island Circus Sideshow and John Strong’s Circus Sideshow. Almost everyone, including the sideshow operators, agrees the publicity is good for Coney Island. But we’d heard nothing at all about the Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow coming to Coney to challenge Ringling until we saw this note scrawled on Cha-Cha’s schedule: “Every Saturday Beginning May 30, Squidling Brothers Sideshow Karnival of Kuriosities.” Since Squidling rhymes with Ringling, and Ringling Brothers Coney Island Boom a Ring Circus will be just down the Boardwalk, ATZ wondered if the name was a product of JT Thomas’s wry humor.

Turns out the Squidlings are a real, live sideshow troupe from Philadelphia who performed at Cha-Cha’s Rockabilly Fest last summer.
Their MySpace page ballyhoos a sword swallower who performs upside down on a trapeze, a human see-saw on a bed of 1,500 nails, and a clown with a homemade flame thrower built into his sword. Ringling clowns take note!

Squidling Bros Circus Sideshow & Burlesque at Cha-Chas

Squidling Bros Circus Sideshow & Burlesque at Cha-Cha's

Also on this summer’s schedule at Cha-Cha’s: Live Jazz (Mondays), Live Rock, Blues and Classic Rock (Fridays), Latin Jazz and Classic Rock (Sundays) and a Rockabilly Fest on Labor Day Weekend.

Cha-Cha’s of Coney Island, Boardwalk just east of Stillwell Ave

Cha Chas Bar & Cafe on the Boardwalk next to Shoot the Freak in Coney Island, photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

Cha Cha's Bar & Cafe on the Boardwalk next to Shoot the Freak in Coney Island, photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

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