Posts Tagged ‘Deno’s Wonder Wheel’

Coney Island’s Opening Day ceremonies have been rescheduled for Saturday, March 26th, due to snow forecast for Palm Sunday. The parks will also be open March 25th, Good Friday, and March 27th, Easter Sunday.

In prep for Coney Island’s opening day on March 20th, the Wonder Wheel’s 24 cars were put back on the landmark ride on Friday. As we’ve noted in past years, the annual ritual is regarded as the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the cars go up, the swinging blue and red ones first and then the stationary white, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

This year, videographer Jim McDonnell recorded a wonderful up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the Vourderis family and their longtime crew returning the freshly painted and refurbished cars to the Wheel after the ride’s winter rest. At the 46 second mark, look for Wonder dog Ringo, park co-owner Steve Vourderis’s pet, cutely supervising. Ringo enjoys riding the Wheel and is no doubt anticipating his first ride of the season. So are we!

Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the rest of Coney Island’s rides will go for their first spin of the 2016 season on Palm Sunday, which also happens to be the first day of spring this year, and is just eight days away. The 31st annual Blessing of the Rides at Wonder Wheel Park starts at 11:00am. After the ceremony, there will be free rides for 300 children from the local Salt and Sea Mission, and free rides on Deno’s Wonder Wheel for the first 96 people on line in celebration of the 1920 Wheel’s 96th year.

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Wonder Wheel dog Ringo supervising the return of the cars to the Wheel. March 11, 2016. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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Deno's Wonder Wheel

Go up it’s Great. Easter Sunday at the Wonder Wheel. April 5, 2015. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

“Go up, it’s Great!” is the joyful slogan of the Wonder Wheel painted on its vintage ticket booths. On the evening of May 8th, you could say “Go up, it’s Poetry!” Deno’s Wonder Wheel will be open special hours – 7pm-10pm – for Poem-a-Rama, a special event featuring an array of poets reciting poetry to guests as they go up in the cars, plus readings on the ground and book-inspired music by Soozie Hwang & the Relastics.

The first-ever literary soiree in the landmark ride’s 95-year history is a benefit for Parachute Literary Arts’ poetry workshops and community poetry libraries in Coney Island. Advance tickets are $20 and include general admission to the event and a ride with a poet on the Wonder Wheel.

“Coney Island has been a source of inspiration for centuries for artists and poets including Whitman and E.E. Cummings and now contemporary poets,” says Parachute’s founder and artistic director Amanda Deutch. “At the same time I am interested in site specific work.” Past events produced by Parachute have featured poets reading in front of the New York Aquarium’s jellyfish tanks and over the mic at the Eldorado Bumper car ticketbooth on Surf Avenue.

Poets reading on the ground at Poem-a-Rama include Patricia Spears Jones, Lynn Melnick and teen poets from Parachute Literary Arts’ writing workshops. Poets with whom you can ride the Wheel are Parachute Festival alum Matthea Harvey and Edwin Torres, as well as Penny Arcade, Amber Atiya, Paul Blackburn, Kurt Boone, Michael Broder, Brenda Coultas, Ian Dreiblatt, Jen Fitzgerald, Tyehimba Jess, Brenda Iijima, Lucy Ives, Amy King, Wanda Phipps and “a wandering Walt Whitman.”

Deutch’s hope for Poem-a-Rama is for poets and passengers to enjoy a truly unique experience “because of all of it–the ride, the ocean breeze, the intimate nature of such a small reading– the poetry will sink in and reverberate for days to come.”

Advance tickets for Poem-a-Rama are available online for $20 via Parachute Literary Arts. Tickets will be $25 online on May 8th, the day of the event, and at the door. Entrance to the event will be at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park‘s West 12th Street gate at 3059 West 12th between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk.

Related posts on ATZ…

October 13, 2013: Photo of the Day: Swinging on the Wonder Wheel

September 29, 2011: Coney Island Poem from the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project

September 7, 2011: Photography: Floating Above the Coney Island Boardwalk

September 27, 2009: Coney Island 1969 by Edwin Torres: Fave Poem from Parachute Festival

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candy apples

First candy apples of the season at Deno’s Sweet Shoppe, Coney Island. April 5, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the Sweet Shoppe in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park on Easter Sunday. Take your pick- plain, or rolled in coconut or nuts. Your first candy apple of the season is always the most delicious!

Related posts on ATZ...

February 18, 2015: Photo of the Day: Hello Kitty and Honey Bear at Nathan’s Famous

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

June 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

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Wonder Wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl Cars

The cars of the Wonder Wheel and other rides are removed and refurbished during the winter at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

It’s 20° and more snow (insert groans) is predicted for the weekend, but Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is busy preparing for Coney Island’s Opening Day. Palm Sunday is a mere 7 weeks away, on April 13th! ATZ got a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s annual maintenance rituals. If these photos make you yearn for spring and summer, you’re not the only one.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Getting ready for opening day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

At this time of year, the Vourderis family and their crew are at work daily getting the rides ready for the first spin of the 2014 season. Every year, the landmark 1920 Wheel is overhauled and painted, along with the park’s 20 other rides. The red, white and blue cars of Deno’s Wonder Wheel are always taken down at the end of the season and their return to the Wheel is the first sign of spring in Coney Island.

Mangels Ponycart and Wonder Wheel Cars

Mangels Ponycart and Freshly Painted Wonder Wheel Cars in Winter Storage at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The date the Wonder Wheel cars go up is subject to the vagaries of wind, weather and work schedules, but it’s usually about a week before Opening Day. As we wrote last year: Being there to see the 24 cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

Wonder Wheel Car being painted

Wonder Wheel Car being painted, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the other rides currently taken apart for refurbishment and painting are the Kiddie Park’s Rio Grande Train and Big Trucks. The tops of the Tilt-A-Whirl buckets are also getting a fresh coat of red.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Steve Vourderis and crew with car from Rio Grande Train, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The traditional Palm Sunday opener for Coney Island’s amusement parks is a bit later this year since the April 13th holiday is a moveable feast. Last year, Opening Day was March 24th and in 2012 it was April 1st. Opening Day festivities include the Blessing of the Rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the ceremonial Egg Cream Christening of the first car on the Cyclone Roller Coaster. Until then, this ticket booth tantalizes walkers on the snow-dappled Boardwalk.

Ticket Booth at Deno's Wonder Wonder Park in Winter.

Ticket Booth at Deno’s Wonder Wonder Park in Winter. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita


Related posts on ATZ…

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

March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

March 28, 2012: Photo Album: Looking Back at Coney Island’s Opening Day

March 19, 2012: In Just-Spring, the Wonder Wheel’s Cars Return

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Parachute Jump Xmas Lights

Happy Holiday Message on Parachute Jump Lights. Photo © Jim McDonnell

If you want to see Christmas lights, the #1 place to go in the country is the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights, according to a survey published today by MSN. Coney Island’s amusement area doesn’t have a tradition of Christmas lights since the parks are closed for the winter, but two of its official New York City landmarks are lit for the holidays and free to view.

While the lighted cross atop Deno’s Wonder Wheel has a 68-year history, the Parachute Jump’s light show is brand-new. The Jump’s dazzling 8,000 LEDs debuted in June and have been specially programmed with a “Happy Holidays” message and Christmas-y colors by Luna Park.

Currently, the Jump is lit from around 4:30pm until midnight, and sometimes later. Originally built for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, the Parachute Jump operated as a ride in Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park until 1964. Today the landmark is known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam to be sure the Jump is lit before you go.

Wonder Wheel Xmas Cross

The annual tradition of putting a lighted cross atop the Wonder Wheel during the Christmas season began in 1945 to mark the end of World War II and the troops return home. During the war years, Coney Island was dark after sundown because of “dim-out” and “blackout” regulations to protect shipping from being silhouetted for the enemy by the glare from the shore. The new LED cross was made by DJ Vourderis, whose family has owned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for 30 years.

Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company, the Wheel is in operation from Palm Sunday through October. Its cars are removed for the winter and put back up in the spring prior to Opening Day. From the 1980s until neighboring Astroland Park closed in 2008, the Wonder Wheel’s Christmas cross had a counterpart in the Astrotower’s lighted Star of David.

In this lyrical video by Jim McDonnell, who also took the beautiful photos in this post, you can see the cross being raised on Friday when warm temps finally melted the ice on the Wheel, allowing it to be turned. The cross remains atop the Wheel until around January 6.


Related posts on ATZ…

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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

March 19, 2013: First Sign of Spring in Coney: Cars Go up on Wonder Wheel

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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The Wonder Wheel Cars Were Put Back on the Wheel on Saturday..March 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The Wonder Wheel Cars Were Put Back on the Wheel on Saturday. March 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

After being rolled out of winter storage last week, the Wonder Wheel’s cars were put back up on the wheel on Saturday. The annual ritual is the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the 24 cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes. The date the cars go up is subject to the vagaries of wind, weather and work schedules. This year, we managed to miss seeing it once again! Luckily, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy was on the Boardwalk when the brackets went up around noon, followed by the red and blue cars. You can see a slide show of his set here. The Wonder Wheel and the rest of Coney Island’s rides go for their first official spin of the season on Palm Sunday, which is just five days away.

Wonder Wheel

Stationary White Cars Ready to Go Up on the Wonder Wheel, March 13, 2013. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park flickr


Related Posts on ATZ…

March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

January 25, 2013: Winter’s First Snow in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

September 4, 2010: Go Up, It’s Great! Coney Island’s & Deno’s Wonder Wheel

April 6, 2010: Photo Album: Yes, We’re Open! Easter Sunday in Coney Island

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Pink Sandbags

Boutique Owner Lola Star Filling Pink Sandbags as the Storm Blows in. Photo © @Lola_Star_ via twitter

Sandbagging was a popular Sunday pastime on the Coney Island beach and boardwalk in advance of the arrival of mega-storm Sandy. Lola Star boutique owner Dianna Carlin, whose famously fave color is pink, spent the day filling pink sandbags with the help of friends and customers. “Both shops successfully secured with pink sandbags! Now to secure my production/ design studio by the water,” she tweeted. Her neighbors on the Boardwalk, Brooklyn Beach Shop and Tom’s Coney Island, opted for basic black. A double row of white sandbags were placed across the front of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Skee-Ball Arcade.

Brooklyn Beach Shop

Sandy Prep: Steve Miller Sandbagging at Brooklyn Beach Shop, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Lola Star’s adorable pink sandbags and cheerful tweets were a welcome contrast to today’s anxiety-inducing news. This morning, Mayor Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A, which includes all of Coney Island, from Sea Gate to Brighton Beach, and other low-lying parts of the City. A significant storm surge is expected on Monday and Tuesday along with possible power outages. Watch the Coney Island Cam to keep an eye on Coney’s beloved Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump during the storm.

Coney Island’s amusement parks–Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone–had to end the season one day early to prep for Sandy. Park workers removed Halloween props as well as tables, chairs, garbage cans and canvas. Some of the rides like Luna Park’s Brooklyn Flyer and Deno’s carousel were partially dismantled. Other rides were folded up or secured.

Sandy Prep in Coney Island

Sandy Prep: Sandbags at Skee-Ball Arcade in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. October 27, 2012. Photo by Deno’s Wonder Wheel via flickr


Related posts on ATZ…

October 29, 2012: Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island

May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

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

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