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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge’

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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Polar Bear Plunge

Viking Beauty and Photographer. Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge 2014. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

Based on the videos and photos of Coney Island’s New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, most people stripped down to swimsuits or athletic wear. But a contingent of creative folk once again came prepared with wacky headgear, costumes and accoutrements in the spirit of the Mermaid Parade. Brooklyn photographer Barry Yanowitz captured the best of the best. In the above photo, he even managed to get a bikini-clad Viking beauty and a photographer wearing a full wetsuit in the same frame. “I bought waterproof boots last year, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go,” says Barry, who grew up in Coney Island and lived here until graduating from college in 1995.

Polar Bear Plunge

Formal Tea at Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge 2014. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

ATZ’s award for best dressed males and best set design at the Polar Bear Plunge goes to the two gentlemen in formal wear who carried a tabletop set for tea into the surf. In a tableau reminiscent of Improv Everywhere’s “Black Tie Beach,” they poured tea for fellow swimmers.

Polar Bear Plunge

Formal Tea at Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge 2014. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

Among the Santas, superheroes, angels, devils and spirit animals, this loving couple–Wonder Woman and Hulk Hogan– stood out. You can see more of Barry Yanowitz’s photos from his New Year’s Day set on his website.

Polar Bear Plunge

Wonder Woman and Hulk Hogan at Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge 2014. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

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Related posts on ATZ…

January 2, 2014: Photo Album: A Happy New Year’s Day in Coney Island

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

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

February 23, 2011: Double Exposure: Photographer Barry Yanowitz & Coney Island on BCAT TV

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Coney Island Polar Club

Members of the Coney Island Polar Club enjoy a Sunday Swim, December 22, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The Coney Island Polar Bears, the oldest winter bathing club in the country, go for a dip in the Atlantic every Sunday starting in November. On January 1st, everyone’s invited to join the party. The Polar Bear Plunge is a fun way to spend New Year’s Day, whether you brave the water or snap photos from the shore. Some of the costumed plungers in Bruce Handy’s photos of past New Year’s Days are reminiscent of the Mermaid Parade. There’s the Metrocard Man, Big Babies in Diapers, Hawaiian dancers, and many superheroes, as well as penguins, ducks, and of course polar bears!

Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

Costumed Characters: Asbury Toll Plaza Meets MetroCard Man at 2013 Polar Bear Plunge, January 1, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The zany event is also a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer holiday. You can register and pledge a donation to this year’s plunge or help participants meet their fundraising goals here. Swim time is 1pm, but it’s best to arrive early. About 2,000 people joined last year’s Plunge, earning an “I Did It” certificate from the Club and bragging rights forever while raising more than $22,000 for Camp Sunshine.

Among the stores that will be open for New Year’s Day are Nathan’s, Ruby’s Bar, The Freak Bar, Tom’s Coney Island and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, along with Williams Candy, Lola Star’s Boardwalk Boutique, Coney Island and Brooklyn Beach Shops, and Brooklyn Rock. For the first time ever, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow will perform on New Year’s Day, with continuous shows from 2-6pm 12-7pm.

Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

2012 Polar Bear Plunge, January 1, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

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Related posts on ATZ…

January 1, 2013: Videos of the Day: Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge 2013

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

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

Jan 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

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Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge

Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge, January 1, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

“After Superstorm Sandy, this was the first time Coney could shine,” says Coney Island resident and photographer Bruce Handy, whose empathetic shots of Coney Island people and places appear frequently on ATZ. He spent his New Year’s Day as usual taking photos on the beach and boardwalk. We’re delighted to start off a new year of photo albums with his photographs of the 2013 Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge.

“I tried to capture people in their natural element, especially emotions: happy, sad, afraid of the cold water, maybe thinking it was a good idea at home but now would rather be in a warmer place,” says Bruce. “About ninety percent of the people were very happy to start their year bathing in the medicinal waters of Coney Island. Sandy was a reminder that life is short and the Polar Bear Plunge is the answer, to follow your heart and soul, to not waste a minute, go for it.”

As ATZ previously reported, for the first time in the Polar Bear Club’s history, instead of everyone running into the water at once, groups went in approximately every seven minutes, a couple hundred at a time. “Each of the five runs was different, all the people were very enthusiastic,” says Bruce. Last year on New Year’s Day, temps in the 50s drew a record number of celebrants– more than 3,000– making the changes advisable from a safety standpoint. This year, tempa were in the 30s and the event drew approximately 2,000 swimmers, according to Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.

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Related posts on ATZ…

January 1, 2013: Videos of the Day: Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge 2013

September 23, 2012: Photo Album: First Brunch at Tom’s Coney Island by Bruce Handy

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

October 31, 2011: Photo Album: Snowtober in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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