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Posts Tagged ‘Jim McDonnell’

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.

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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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Rescue boats and crane

Rescue boats and crane coming to aid of sunken barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island. April 14, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Sunday morning, a flotilla of rescue boats and barges were in the water east of Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier where a construction barge and a Vergona crawler crane sank yesterday. Today’s efforts were focused on trying to remove the barge from the pier. The sunken equipment had been brought to the site a few days ago, where Triton Construction is doing repairs. The 1000-foot Steeplechase Pier was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. On Friday, the pier was swarming with workers, all wearing harnesses. By Friday night the construction barge began to list.

The above photo of the rescue craft was shot this morning by Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, who said the big crane is twice the size of the sunken one. The dramatic photographs below of the sinking barge were taken on Saturday morning by Jim McDonnell, whose news-breaking photos ATZ posted yesterday in “Sinking Barge at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier.”

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier

Sinking Barge and Crane at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

According to NY1, the Coast Guard says the fire department had contractors unload fuel from the barge and there were no leaks. The barge’s owner is reponsible for coming up with a plan for salvaging it. We hope this is resolved quickly and doesn’t delay the reconstruction of the pier, which was scheduled to be completed by July 4th.

UPDATE April 24, 2013

The post-Sandy reconstruction of Steeplechase Pier is back up to speed after a construction barge sank on April 13: “Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update”, ATZ, April 24, 2013

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier,

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 10, 2012: Steeplechase Plaza Under Construction in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier,

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

This morning at approximately 8:23 AM, the FDNY’s Marine 6 responded to a report of a sinking barge at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier. NYC Fire Wire reported “All hands going to work for a sinking Barge with occupants trapped. Marine 9 rescued 2 at this time.” The barge has a crane with a 500 gallon fuel tank on it and the end of the pier was said to be in danger of collapse. Photographer Jim McDonnell was on the beach and captured the scene in these photos. Containment booms were put in place to protect against an oil spill. When more information and photos are available, we’ll post an update.

Bruce Handy photographed the barge and crane last night and said it was already tilting. The equipment had been at the end of the pier for the past few days for repairs of the Sandy-damaged pier. “The main diagonal beam that was raising the floor has been removed. Looks like they are stripping everything and will redo all the wood,” he said.

It’s exactly one month since workers began repairing the pier. On March 14th, ATZ first reported the repairs underway. In an email to ATZ, Meghan Lalor of the Parks Department Press Office wrote: “The entire Steeplechase Pier is being reconstructed. We expect to complete construction by July 4.”

UPDATE April 14, 2013

Today’s Photo Update: Sunken Barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island

UPDATE April 24, 2013

The post-Sandy reconstruction of Steeplechase Pier is back up to speed after a construction barge sank on April 13: “Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update”, ATZ, April 24, 2013

Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island

FDNY Marine 6 on the scene at sinking barge, Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 10, 2012: Steeplechase Plaza Under Construction in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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Nathan's Surf Avenue

Post-Sandy Reconstruction: Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue. March 2, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

The first Nathan’s hot dogs and french fries to be served in Coney Island since Sandy struck more than four months ago are on the horizon. In two weeks, the famous franks will be back on the Boardwalk! Nathan’s Boardwalk location, which expanded last season and suffered less damage from Sandy than the Surf Avenue store, is set to open in mid-March. One source tells ATZ the Nathan’s Boardwalk store will open on March 16, a Saturday, while another says March 18. Either way, we’ll let you know ASAP. UPDATE 1:35pm: ATZ confirmed with Nathan’s Corporate Office that the official opening date of their Boardwalk restaurant will be Monday, March 18th.

Over the weekend, the gut rehab at Nathan’s Famous original location on Surf Avenue continued with workers ripping out the counter and steel shutters, as seen in the above photo by Jim McDonnell. The interior as well as electrical and plumbing were ruined by the flood water and sewage that surged into the store during Superstorm Sandy. Sources tell ATZ the target date for completing the work and reopening Nathan’s main store at Surf and Stillwell Avenues is Memorial Day Weekend.

Ahead of March 24’s Opening Day for Coney Island’s amusement rides, some of Nathan’s neighbors on the Boardwalk such as Brooklyn Beach Shop, Nathan’s Gift Shop, and Ruby’s Bar and Grill have already been open “by chance” and expect to open on the weekend of March 16th. Lola Star Boutique and Paul’s Daughter are set to open on Palm Sunday Weekend. Tom’s Restaurant, which has been serving breakfast and lunch all winter, was exceptionally crowded over the weekend. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, who eats there every Sunday said, “Today we got the last table and they were holding people at the door.” Spring is in the wings and the crowds are coming back to Coney!

UPDATE March 7, 2013:

Nathan’s and Major League Eating announced they will hold the first qualifier for the 2013 Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Saturday, March 23, at 1 pm, at the Boardwalk restaurant as part of opening-weekend celebrations for Coney Island.

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March 7, 2013: March Events: Coney Island USA Gala, Dreamland Bell, Tom Thumb, Opening Day

February 27, 2013: Coney Island’s 24-Hour Dunkin Donuts to Reopen in March

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

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ATZ is pleased to present this Coney Island Polar Bear’s eye view of the 2013 New Year’s Day Plunge with videos by Polar Bear Club members Jim McDonnell and Princess Mermaid Capri. The Polar Bear Club, which has 150 members who swim every Sunday in the winter, celebrated their 110th year with the 2013 New Year’s Day Plunge. About 2,000 people participated in today’s event, which is free and open to the public. They earned an “I Did It” certificate from the Club and “bragging rights forever,” as one participant says in Jim’s video. The water temperature was 41F/5C, air temp 37F and wind chill 27F, according to Capri.

For the first time in the Polar Bear Club’s history, instead of everyone running into the water at once, waves of people went in approximately every seven minutes, a couple hundred at a time. Also for the first time, registration was mandatory for the New Year’s Day Plunge since participants were issued color-coded wristbands. Those with blue wristbands were in the first wave of swimmers at 1pm, followed by red, green, orange and purple. Here’s the first wave…

“It went very well,” Polar Bear President Dennis Thomas told ATZ. “The Parks Department wanted a little more control and less chaos. And we did a better job of getting everyone registered.” Last year on New Year’s Day, temps in the 50s drew a record number of participants– more than 3,000— making the changes advisable from a safety standpoint.

Besides being a great way to start off the new year, the annual event is a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life threatening diseases. According to Thomas, almost $22,000 was raised for Camp Sunshine and they expect to meet their goal of $25,000. This year, funds are also being raised for Coney Recovers, a coalition of local nonprofits helping with relief efforts after SuperStorm Sandy. If you missed the event, it’s not too late to donate online or mail in a check.

This video by Princess Mermaid Capri shows the fourth wave of swimmers…

Some of the wacky costumed characters are familiar from previous years’ swims or reminiscent of the Mermaid Parade. In photos and videos, we spotted the bagpiper, the Metrocard Man, Santa Claus, Hawaiians, various superheroes and the guys with the inflatable octopus toy as well as penguins and polar bears! Some carried hand-made signs that read “Free Polar Hugs” and “Polar Bears from the Bronx.” Two Japanese guys in bikinis from Tokyo Circus shared a timeless message: “Your Smile Is Beautiful.” Happy New Year from Coney Island!

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December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

December 1 2012: Dec 2: Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s First Swim of Season

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

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The most popular videos posted on Amusing the Zillion in 2012 include a music video by a country star, new films by Coney Island photographers Charles Denson and Jim McDonnell, two films that premiered at festivals in 2012 and rediscovered footage from Coney’s past.

Coney Island is a long way from Nashville, but in December 2011 country singer Alan Jackson was spotted filming a music video on the Boardwalk. Released in January, this poignant ballad about the end of a love affair had the very likeable Jackson singing “I’ll be the SOB, if that’s what you need from me. So you don’t have to love me anymore.” The shuttered stores and lonely beauty of Coney Island on a December day suit the lyrics, which are sorrowful yet defiant, in the way that the best country songs often are. (“Music Video: Alan Jackson’s So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” ATZ, January 13, 2012)

Coney Island historian Charles Denson’s 10-minute film of “Climbing the Parachute Jump” was released in January via his “Coneyologist” Channel on YouTube. Featuring video footage by Seth Kaufman and his own exquisite photos, Denson’s film captures the fulfillment of his boyhood dream to once again see the view from the top. “I grew up a few blocks from the Jump and have documented it since it closed,” he writes. “When the city decided to dismantle and renovate the Jump ten years ago, my engineer friend Seth Kaufman had the only copy of the original plans. The city needed them so we made a deal: We got to climb it legally.” (“Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump,” ATZ, January 18, 2012)

ATZ found this spoof of Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous from an early Conan O’Brien Show in which comedian Andy Richter and actor Abe Vigoda travel to Coney Island on a rainy day in December 1994. “Come join the stars as they escort Andy Richter to their wonderful weekend getaways on Runaway with Andy,” Leach says in the intro. He describes Coney as “a sleepy island of exotic delight.” You’ll catch glimpses of such vanished attractions as Faber’s Sportland Arcade, the Thunderbolt roller coaster, Hell Hole, Jumbo Jet, the Zipper ride, and a food trailer called Trashy Trudy’s Goodeating. (“Blast from the Past: Andy & Abe Tour 1994 Coney Island,” ATZ, February 9, 2012)

“Coney Island Lights” by photographer and self-described “footage guru” Jim McDonnell is lyrical and bewitching thanks to masterful editing by McDonnell, who knows Coney Island and has a talent for distilling its essence into a short film. Watch for Luna Park’s Air Race ride, the dancing lights of the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, and the blinking red eye of the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops (“Video of the Day: Coney Island Lights by Jim McDonnell,” ATZ, July 8, 2012)

This is the trailer for Amy Nicholson’s Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, the award-winning new documentary about the rezoning and redevelopment of Coney Island. “A small-time ride operator and his beloved carnival contraption become casualties in the battle over the future of Coney Island” is the film’s capsule description. Eddie Miranda’s Zipper represents all of the mom-and-pops who were displaced by the real estate speculation that was set off by the Bloomberg administration’s plan to rezone Coney Island. ATZ reviewed the film when it premiered at DOC NYC in November. (“Film Trailer: Zipper, Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride,” ATZ, July 26, 2012)

ATZ happened to come across this raw footage shot in early 1960s Coney Island from the collection of Anthology Film Archives. The clip above titled “Coney Island – Night – Silent work-print” has atmospheric scenes of a grand carousel, amusement games and Nathan’s packed with people. The “Steeplechase Carousel” was on the Boardwalk at 16th Street and according to a reader, its frame and some of the Illions horses are likely part of the Flushing Meadows carousel today. (“Video of the Day: Raw Footage of 1960s Coney Island,” ATZ, August 27, 2012)

Posted on Labor Day, “Coney Island Dancing 2012″ opens with the legendary Tony Disco before segueing to the legendary dancing mannequin known as “Miss Coney Island.” For the past two seasons, photographer and film editor Jim McDonnell has released an annual video of the season’s best dance moves on the Boardwalk and the Polar Express and at Luna Park, Wonder Wheel Park and the Mermaid Parade and Ball. Here are links to his dance vids from 2010 and 2011 in case you missed ’em. Party on!(“Video: Coney Island Dancing 2012 by Jim McDonnell,” ATZ, September 13, 2012)

“Gotta Love Coney Island” by Brooklyn native and Coney Island regular Jay Singer is frenetic and hypnotic. It was one of the films in ATZ’s “5 Coney Must-Sees at the Coney Island Film Festival”, where it premiered in September. “It is 275 separate scenes at various speeds composited into a ‘one reel’ experimental film,” Jay told ATZ. “The goal was to capture the ‘pulse’ of Coney Island on a busy day, with intercuts of vintage footage filmed by my grandfather alongside contemporary footage of my own.” (“Video of the Day: Gotta Love Coney Island by Jay Singer,” ATZ, September 25, 2012)

Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson rode out Hurricane Sandy in Sea Gate where his apartment flooded up to the windows and his car floated away. He posted this dramatic video footage of Sandy making landfall at Sea Gate on October 29th. (“Photos of the Day: Devastation at Coney Island’s Sea Gate,” ATZ, November 1, 2012)

Set to “I Remember Coney Island,” a 1981 recording by the Lounge Lizards, Dave Pentecost’s Coney Island Time Lapse features footage shot in the summer of 2012 of the Wonder Wheel, Brooklyn Flyer and other amusement rides in action. “This circular fisheye video is intended to be projected in the digital dome in the new Lower Eastside Girls Club community science and art center,” says Pentecost. (“Video of the Day: Coney Island Time Lapse by Dave Pentecost,” ATZ, December 3, 2012)

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Fire Eating

Fire Eating at Coney Island Winter Celebration, Gargiulo’s Restaurant. December 13, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

In this photo by Jim McDonnell, fire eaters Adam RealMan and Kryssy Kocktail of the Coney Island Sideshow liven up the cocktail hour at Thursday’s Coney Island Winter Celebration at Gargiulo’s Restaurant. The Alliance for Coney Island-sponsored dinner raised more than $40,000 for Sandy relief and recovery efforts in the neighborhood.

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December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island

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