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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Wonder Wheel and Spook-A-Rama Skeleton

Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Spook-A-Rama Skeleton. September 7, 2015.

Happy Halloween! Thanks to the extended season and the spooky holiday falling on a Saturday, which hasn’t happened in several years, Spook-A-Rama is open on Halloween Weekend for the first time ever. Coney Island’s legendary 60-year-old dark ride adjacent to Deno’s Wonder Wheel opens at 12 noon.

November 1st is the last day of the season for Coney Island’s two amusement parks – Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park – which are scheduled to reopen on Coney’s traditional opening day, Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016. This weekend is your last chance to go for a first date or get engaged on the Wonder Wheel and brave the Cyclone roller coaster in 2015.

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March 29, 2013: Spook-A-Rama Revival: Vintage Cyclops Meets New Dragon

March 13, 2013: Coney Island 2013: New Ghouls Mingle with Old in Rebuilt Spook-A-Rama

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Halloween Parade

Kids in Costume including ‘Lily’s Arcade” for last year’s Coney Island Children’s Halloween Parade, October 27, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

This year’s Coney Island Children’s Halloween Parade, a free event for kids up to 15 years of age, is on Saturday, October 26th. The festivities begin at 11am at MCU Park, with magicians, live music, face-painting and costumed characters like Sandy the Seagull and Nathan’s Frankster. The parade will march down the Boardwalk to Luna Park, where registered participants will receive a 4-hour Luna Park wristband and other goodies. The registration form is available here [pdf].

ATZ snapped the above photo of “Lily’s Arcade,” one of the cutest costumes at last year’s parade, but never got to post it since prep for Hurricane Sandy began the next day and Halloween was cancelled in the storm’s aftermath. This year’s 4th annual parade is hosted by Coney Island City Councilman Domenic Recchia, Jr. and the Alliance for Coney Island. The event is produced by Coney Island USA, with the Chief Justice of the Mermaid Parade, Mark Alhadeff, overseeing the Halloween Costume Contest at 12 noon.

The Coney Island parade reminds us of the early days of the now ginormous, 40-year-old Village Halloween Parade. Founded in 1974 by puppeteer Ralph Lee as a Halloween activity for children from the Westbeth Artists Community, where Lee lived, the charming little parade used to wend its way from Bank Street to Washington Square Park, while a small audience of neighborhood residents watched from the curb. Oh, yes, those were the days!

The weekend of October 26 and 27 is also the final spin of the 2013 season for the rides at Coney Island’s amusement parks– Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park (including the Cyclone roller coaster) and Scream Zone– which open at 12 noon. Happy Halloween!

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October 8, 2013: Photo of the Day: Sunset at Coney Island Pier by Bruce Handy

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

October 26, 2012: Miss Coney Island & Her Cat Dolled Up For Halloween

June 10, 2013: Photo of the Day: Candy Treats at Coney Island Mom & Pop

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Creepshow at the Freakshow

Creepshow at the Freakshow Banner by Marie Roberts, painted in 2004. Photo taken October 27, 2012. © Tricia Vita

Artist Marie Roberts, whose sideshow banners adorn Coney Island USA’s facade, painted this one for Creepshow at the Freakshow in 2004. ATZ snapped this photo last October, but never got to post it or review the play since it was cancelled the very next day due to Superstorm Sandy! This year’s Creepshow, titled “Coney Island Criminals,” is opening this weekend, and Marie’s banner, which survived the storm, is once again in the window on Surf Avenue beckoning passersby to stop and buy tickets.

Written and directed by Dick Zigun, the interactive play takes its inspiration from an episode in the early career of Al Capone. The gangster got his nickname “Scarface” in 1917 after getting slashed at Coney Island’s Harvard Inn where he worked as a bartender/bouncer. More of Marie Roberts art will be seen in the show, including a painting of an Ivy League rowing club and the logo of Yale University’s secret society Skull and Bones, which is beguiling considering that the Harvard Inn was owned by a gang boss known as Frankie Yale and Dick Zigun is a Yale School of Drama grad.

The play also features CIUSA outside talker Scott Baker as Jimmy Durante, who got his start playing piano in Coney Island. Set design is by Kate Dale, the Juilliard prop shop supervisor and veteran “Best Mermaid” who has been the Creepshow’s designer for the past eight years. Since the Harvard Inn burned down long ago and even Seaside Walk, the street it was on, is no more, being in the audience at “Coney Island Criminals” and possibly getting hit in the face with spaghetti or made into the mob is as close as you’ll get to this place.

Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Ave. Corner of Surf Avenue and West 12th Street, Coney Island. Creepshow at the Freakshow runs from October 11 through Halloween. Check website for days and showtimes. Tickets are $15 in advance or at the door.

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October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

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

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

August 6, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

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Stump of the Astrotower

The AstroStump, all that remains of the Astrotower, decorated for Halloween at Coney Island’s Luna Park. October 5, 2013

ATZ’s award for the creepiest, most inappropriate Halloween decoration goes to Luna Park for a bizarre attempt at paying homage to the demolished Astrotower. Formerly wrapped in a tarp, the AstroStump is all that remains of the tower, which is now bedecked with skeleton props as the centerpiece of a faux graveyard for the park’s Halloween celebration. Seeing the blackened, blow-torched edges of the chopped down icon for the first time was very unsettling. It’s like seeing the tortured corpse of a dear departed friend who would have been 50 years old next year. They got the date wrong on the tombstone–the tower debuted in 1964, not 1962.

What were they thinking? Well, the original All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for humans to propitiate the restless dead and for the dead to gain vengeance before moving to the next world. Not sure if dead landmarks have restless spirits, but the Astrotower was practically human since it used to sing. It’s been three months since the genuinely horrific July 4th Week when the 275-foot tower was cut apart with blowtorches in a marathon demolition following hysterical claims that it was swaying more than usual had closed most of Coney Island. The tower’s cut-down sections were carted off to the Cropsey Avenue junkyard while the stump was hidden from view by a tarp and fenced off like it had the plague.

The Remains of the Astrotower

The Astrostump is all that remains of the 275-foot Astrotower. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Considering that not a trace remains of Astroland at the site of the former Astroland except this stump, it would have been more appropriate for Luna Park to put up a real plaque after the demolition. It’s distressing that a recollection of a tragic episode in Coney Island history, especially one that happened just three months ago, is reduced to a fake graveyard for Halloween.

However, not everyone agrees that this Halloween decoration is in bad taste. One Coney Island fan tweeted that the idea was “extremely clever.” Also in the faux graveyard are tombstones of long dead Coney luminaries such as Tilyou, Feltman, Handwerker and Mangels as well as a gravestone for Astroland Park. What do you think?

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July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

July 3, 2013: Long Live Coney Island’s Swaying, Singing Astrotower!

September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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John Dunivant

John Dunivant at the Lodge Gallery in New York City, through October 12, 2013

Once upon a time, there was an enchanted amusement park, hidden on the edge of a ragged city. For one night every year, this secret kingdom made itself known and sprang to life with fire and music and dance. – until the day it was exposed – and cast out.

The Expatriate Parade began as a single sketch of a scapegoat with a ferris wheel on its back. It bore my burden as it was driven from its home by an unfeeling and unseen power. This sketch led to many more, and the resulting parade of drawings – with its ceaseless forward motion in spite of the ever changing circumstances of the moment – led me to reflect on my own life. –John Dunivant

A few years before Detroit’s Michigan State Fair, the oldest in the nation, closed forever, I had a blast working a game on the midway. “It’s Crazy Ball Fun Time! You pick the colors the crazy ball picks the winners. We’re giving it all away today at the Michigan State Fair!” Friends who lived in Detroit’s suburbs wouldn’t venture to 7 Mile and Woodward Avenue to visit, which helps explain why the fair’s attendance had plummeted to a mere 217,000.

Meanwhile, across the street, artist John Dunivant spent a decade building what he calls an abandoned theme park using iconography from Coney Island and other places. In this video by Makezine, you’ll see a Hell’s Mouth sign that takes its inspiration from the neon THRILLS sign at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The artist lists natural history museums, dioramas, Halloween, souvenir postcards, the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, roadside attractions, reliquaries and religious iconography, and traveling carnivals among his obsessions and fascinations.

The drug wars in Dunivant’s neighborhood made it possible for his friend Ken Poirer to buy up property and once a year, on Halloween, their midway came to life with a phantasmagorical underground party called “Theatre Bizarre.” In addition to elaborately costumed performers, there was an operating Ferris Wheel and a homemade roller coaster. In 2010, the same year the state fair shut down, Dunivant’s illegal amusement rides and funhouses were discovered by city authorities and shut down for code violations.

John Dunivant’s “The Expatriate Parade,” a series of paintings and bronzes inspired by the closure of Theatre Bizarre, is on view through October 12 at the Lodge Gallery at 131 Chrystie Street on New York’s Lower East Side. The artist will give a talk on Saturday, October 5, at 2 pm.

Yet Theatre Bizarre lives on, at a new location –Detroit’s Masonic Temple–and won a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation for fostering the arts. This year the party is set for October 18 and 19. A documentary film is also in the works–here’s the splendid trailer…

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October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

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Dancing Cat

Miss Coney Island’s Dancing Cat, West 12th Street, Coney Island. October 14, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

As the sign on the window housing “Miss Coney Island” says: “DON’T POSTPONE JOY.” This weekend is your last chance to spend 25 cents to fall in love with the famed dancing doll and her dancing cat. Located on West 12th Street across from the Steeplechase coaster, the mechanical duo are dolled up for Saturday’s Halloween festivities. There’s no charge to take a souvenir photo, but we suggest you bring a roll of quarters to spend on Miss Coney Island and the neighboring miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” and Skin the Wire game before they close for the winter.

Souvenir Photo with Miss Coney Island

Visitors Pose for Souvenir Photo with Miss Coney Island. October 14, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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September 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Last Dance With Miss Coney Island

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Sunset over Coney Carnival

Sunset over Coney Carnival, Luna Park. October 12, 2012. Photo © Luna Park Coney Island via flickr

October sunsets in Coney Island have been intense, a last burst of light and color before the Boardwalk amusement parks shutter for the season. This weekend is your last chance to go for a spin on Coney’s rides until next year’s Palm Sunday opener on March 24, 2013! On Saturday and Sunday, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone open at 12 noon. For kids, there’s Saturday’s Halloween Parade, the New York Aquarium’s Ascarium, Spook-A-Rama at Deno’s and Game World’s Haunted Arcade.

Coney’s Halloween haunts start at 6pm with Nights of Horror featuring two mazes and unlimited rides at Luna Park (October 26 thru 28 27). Dick Zigun’s play “Dirty Work at the Wax Works” runs hourly at CreepShow at the Freak Show (October 25 thru 31 27, October 31 TBD). Beginning at 9pm on Friday night, it’ll be “Bump Bump Bump Your Ass Off” for the last time in 2012 and possibly forever– though we hope not– at Coney Island’s Eldorado Disco Palace of Bumper Cars. The last ride weekend party continues on Saturday night and into Sunday morning with go go dancers, a Skeeball Contest, unlimited Bumper car rides and a raffle of Eldorado tricks and treats.

Eldorado Auto Skooter

Eldorado Auto Skooter, Coney Island. September 3, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Does this mean Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk close after Halloween? Not at all. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club goes for their first Sunday swim of the season beginning in November. The high point of the Polar Bear season is the New Year’s Day Plunge, which attracted a record 3,000 swimmers this year and an even bigger crowd of onlookers.

Owners of a few of the new and the newly renovated Boardwalk businesses including Tom’s Coney Island, Ruby’s Bar, Brooklyn Beach Shop and Lola Star Boutique tell ATZ they hope to stay open year-round. “Already our shelves are filling up with tons of new holiday gift items and there’s lots more on the way. We are in it for the long haul,” says Lola Star’s Dianna Carlin. “We are installing a glass storefront and we’ll be open, weather permitting, all winter long!” Michael and Melody Sarrel of Ruby’s Bar have also ordered a glass front – it’s removable in the summertime — to keep out the wintry wind while preserving the famous view of the boardwalk.

Ruby's Bar

October View from Ruby’s Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 13, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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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

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