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Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy McCullough’

Jimmy McCullough

Jimmy McCullough. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

Jimmy McCullough, whose family has operated amusements in Coney Island for four generations, passed away at his home on August 19.

Born in 1929, Jimmy McCullough grew up in Long Island and began working in Coney during World War II in one of the 22 shooting galleries then owned by his grandfather, he told historian Charles Denson in an interview for the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive. He recalled working long hours–until 3, 4, or 5 o’clock in the morning at the family’s amusement attractions.

“Coney Island was the center of our world,” said McCullough, whose great-grandfather was George C Tilyou of Steeplechase Park and whose mother was a Stubbman, a family who operated a beer garden, hotel and carousel where the Aquarium is now.

Jimmy McCullough was also a traveling showman. Along with his daughters Carol and Nancy, he owned and operated such rides as one of the first Zippers ever manufactured, the Round-Up and the Skywheel, which they brought to Toronto’s CNE and booked into fairs as independent ride operators.

Last September, ATZ wrote about the McCullough family’s history in Coney Island when their 50-year-old kiddie park at the Bowery and 12th Street closed after a lease renewal with Thor Equities fell through. The lot has stood vacant ever since Coney Island’s oldest ride operator tore down his Herschell carousel and kiddie rides and left.

Carousel

1912 Charles Carmel Carousel operated by the McCullough family in Coney Island until 1952, when it was moved to Prospect Park. Photo via Coney Island History Project flickr

In the 1950s, the McCullough family had Kiddielands at Surf Avenue and 15th Street and Surf Avenue and 8th Street next to the Cyclone. They also owned and operated three historic carousels in Coney Island which are now in City parks and are their lasting legacy to the people of New York.

The 1912 carousel carved by Charles Carmel, which was at 8th Street, became the Prospect Park Carousel in 1952. The Stubbman Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk, was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park.

The third is the B&B, the last hand-carved wooden carousel in Coney Island, which Jimmy McCullough sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Salzstein. The restored B&B Carousell opened with much fanfare in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza this year.

Services for Jimmy McCullough will be held at William E. Law Funeral Home, 1 Jerusalem Ave, Massapequa, NY on Thursday, August 22, 7-9PM and Friday, August 23, 2-4:30PM and 7-9PM. The funeral will be on Saturday, August 24, at 10AM at Maria Regina R.C. Church, 3945 Jerusalem Ave, Seaford, NY. Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy in his memory are asked to consider a donation to St. Jude’s Hospital or The Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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January 7, 2013: Photo Album: Pieces of Coney Island Skyline in December

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Kiddie Park Getting Squeezed by Thor Equities

June 3, 2009: Coney Island Rides: Tug Boat and Carousel in McCullough’s Kiddie Park

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Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The lead horse on the beautifully restored and just reopened B&B Carousell is a rare steed. Sumptuous detailing on its trappings includes a relief of Abe Lincoln and the Coney Island carver‘s signature “Built by MC Illions.” According to carousel historian Marianne Stevens, the horse was carved in 1909, the same year the Lincoln penny was issued, in honor of the Centennial of Lincoln’s birth. It was one of four Lincoln horses carved by Illions for various carousels and the only one remaining on a working carousel. Stevens says the other jumper is on display at the New England Carousel Museum and the whereabouts of the two standers is unknown.

Lead Horse B & B Carousell

Lead Horse ‘Built by MC Illions’ on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island. May 24,2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The horse is the only one of the B&B’s 50 horses carved by Illions, who developed the Coney Island style of carving. The rest are the work of Charles Carmel, another master carousel carver who also emigrated from Russia and worked in Brooklyn. How did the Illions horse come to be part of the B&B Carousell? It is thanks to Jimmy McCullough, whose family operated four historic carousels in Coney Island which are now in New York City’s parks.

One of them was the Stubbmann Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk. It was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park. When the Stubbman closed, James McCullough and his son Jimmy each chose a horse to keep, according to Stevens. Jimmy chose the Lincoln jumper which is now on the B&B, a carousel that he operated since the 1970s and sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Saltzstein.

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The other Coney Island carousels that are part of the McCullough legacy are the 1908 Stein and Goldstein Carousel brought to Central Park from the trolley terminal at W 5th and Surf Avenue and the 1912 Charles Carmel Carousel in Prospect Park that operated at 8th Street and Surf. Last year, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, the family’s last remaining business in Coney Island, closed after a 50 year run.

Thanks to Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, and Luna Park, which operates the B&B Carousell in the new Steeplechase Plaza, for their photos of the MC Illions horse.

Lead Horse on B&B Carousell

Lead Horse ‘Built by MC Illions’ on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island. May 24, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

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McCullough's Kiddie Park

Kiddie Wheel Being Taken Down, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island. October 15, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

On Monday, workers at McCullough’s Kiddie Park at the corner of West 12th Street and the Bowery in Coney Island began dismantling the little yellow wheel and the Herschell carousel under the gaze of the Bumblebees. As ATZ reported last month, the park’s lease with property owner Thor Equities ended this year (Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island, ATZ, September 4, 2012). Since the parties could not agree to terms of a lease renewal, Jimmy McCullough, who is Coney’s oldest ride operator, is closing his family’s last remaining business here.

“Jimmy McCullough and the McCullough family would like to thank our customers for generations and decades, and all of our business associates in Coney Island,” said his daughter Carol McCullough in an interview with ATZ in September. The McCullough family has operated amusements here for four generations and is related to the Tilyous of Steeplechase Park. In the 1950s, they had Kiddielands at Surf Avenue and 15th Street as well as Surf Avenue and 8th Street next to the Cyclone. The Kiddie Park at 12th Street has been in operation since the 1960s and had ten kiddie rides after a sublease expired on an adjacent property also owned by Thor Equities.

The McCullough family’s lasting legacy is the three historic wooden carousels that they once operated in Coney Island. The rides remain in New York City’s parks: the Prospect Park Carousel, the Flushing Meadows Carousel, and the B&B Carousell, which will reopen in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza in 2013.

McCullough's Kiddie Park

Aerial View of McCullough’s Kiddie Park. October 14, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

A family who has operated amusements in Coney Island for four generations and is related to the Tilyous of Steeplechase Park is closing their last remaining business here. We’re sad to report the news that McCullough’s Kiddie Park, which has been on 12th Street at the Bowery in Coney Island since the 1960s is closing this month. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to come to an agreement on extending the lease. Technically today is the last day,” Carol McCullough told ATZ on Labor Day, “but we might stay open another weekend or two or three, depending on the weather.” The lease with property owner Thor Equities leaves them until the end of the year to move the rides off the property.

“Jimmy McCullough and the McCullough family would like to thank our customers for generations and decades, and all of our business associates in Coney Island,” said Carol McCullough, whose father Jimmy is the oldest ride owner in Coney Island. The closing of McCullough’s marks yet another critical point in the exit of independent amusement operators in Coney Island. It started in 2007, with Thor’s eviction of Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City and the Zipper and Spider rides documented in Amy Nicholson’s upcoming film “Zipper.”

Although McCullough’s Kiddie Park has operated on 12th Street for fifty years, the family’s history in Coney Island goes back much further. Four generations of McCulloughs have owned and operated amusement rides here. They are related to the Tilyou family of Steeplechase Park as well as to the Stubbman family, whose Coney Island carousel became part of the one in Flushing Meadows.

McCullough's

More Rides at McCullough's Kiddie Park, Coney Island. May 15, 2009. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

“My grandfather’s parents were James McCullough and Katherine Tilyou, who had eight children,” said Carol, who along with her sister has worked in the family business for the past twenty-six years. The McCulloughs were also traveling showmen. They owned and operated such rides as one of the first Zippers ever manufactured, the Round-Up and the Skywheel, which they brought to Toronto’s CNE and booked into fairs as independent ride operators.

The park currently has ten kiddie rides: Bumblebees, Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Swings, Motorcycles, Yellow Submarine, Dizzy Dragons, Himalaya, Ladybug and Frog Hopper. Last year, McCullough’s had to be reconfigured and lost two rides after a sublease expired on an adjacent property also owned by Thor Equities.

In the 1950s, the McCullough family had Kiddielands at Surf Avenue and 15th Street and Surf Avenue and 8th Street next to the Cyclone. They also operated four historic carousels which remain in New York City’s parks. One of them was the 1912 carousel carved by Charles Carmel which was at 8th Street and is now the Prospect Park Carousel. The Stubbman Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk, was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park. The third was the B&B Carousell, the last wooden carousel in Coney Island, which Jimmy McCullough sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Salzstein. The restored carousel will reopen in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza next year.

You can listen to Jimmy McCullough’s interview about learning the carousel business from his father, James McCullough, who began his career working on the Steeplechase and Stubbmann carousels, in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive.

“Many thanks to all! It’s been quite a ride, pun intended,” said Carol McCullough. “We wish everyone well who operates there and hope that Coney Island goes on for a great many years to come for people to enjoy.”

B & B Carousell

B&B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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August 22, 2013: In Memoriam: Carousel & Amusement Park Operator Jimmy McCullough

November 23, 2012: Black Friday Shopping: Coney Island Kiddie Rides for Sale

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Kiddie Park Getting Squeezed by Thor Equities

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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 After the Storm

Coney Island 2011 Winter to Spring: After the Storm. January 12, 2011. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Photographer Jim McDonnell got back from a walk in snowy Coney Island and sent us a link to his first photos of the 2011 season. Among our faves is this snowed-in kiddie park at Bowery and 12th Street. Seeing the grinning Bumblebeez always puts us in a happy mood.

Although Jimmy McCullough’s Kiddie Park doesn’t get photographed as often as its larger neighbors, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park, it has 12 kiddie rides packed into a surprisingly small area. McCullough is a cousin to the Tilyous and has owned and operated rides, including the B & B Carousell, in Coney Island for many years.

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November 18, 2010: Good News from Coney Island! Eldorado “Bump Your Ass Off” Bumper Cars To Reopen

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

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

June 8, 2009: Coney Island Rides: Tug Boat and Carousel in McCullough’s Kiddie Park

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