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Posts Tagged ‘Parachute Jump’

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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Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump Lit at Dusk. October 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

When the Parachute Jump’s dazzling new 8,000 LEDs debuted in June, Luna Park CEO Valerio Ferrari told ATZ the tower would be lit whenever the park was open. One of the things we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving is that after the park closed for the season at the end of October, the landmark tower’s light show has continued nightly. Photographers are jumping for joy. Coney Island’s Bruce Handy, whose photos are featured in this album, shoots the lighted Jump almost as frequently as he does sunsets.

Although there’s been no official announcement from the Parks Department or Luna Park, the unofficial word on the Boardwalk is the Jump is going to be lit year-round. This is exactly right considering the City’s stated goal ever since Mayor Bloomberg announced the Strategic Plan for the Future of Coney Island in 2005 has been to “transform the area into a year-round entertainment destination.”

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump. November 4, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

The Parachute Jump lights the way to Coney Island for visitors. Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower is visible from as far away as the Verrazano Bridge on the Belt Parkway. You can spot it from planes flying in and out of JFK. One of Bruce’s friends has taken photos of the Jump lights from his 37th floor of his office in lower Manhattan. “I also see it from the 71st St elevated D train platform,” says Bruce. “I’m sure it’s visible from the cruise ships leaving NY harbor every night and returning every morning at sunrise.” Currently, the Parachute Jump is lit nightly from 4:30pm until midnight or later (with the exception of random days when its timer is on the blink). Here’s hoping the Jump will remain lit year-round like the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam before you go.

Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase, Coney Island’s world-famous amusement park, which closed forever in 1964. The pier and the Jump tower are the sole survivors of the park that once billed itself “Coney Island’s Only Funny Place, Where 25,000 People Laugh at One Time.”

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump from Steeplechase Pier. November 4, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

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October 30, 2013: Photo Album: Four Transformations, One Year After Sandy

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June 21, 2013: Photo Album: Preview of Parachute Jump LED Lights

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

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Boardwalk at Dusk

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk, July 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

While summer doesn’t officially end until September 21st, Labor Day Weekend is the last Friday night fireworks show of the Coney Island season and the last time the lifeguards will be on duty this year. The rides remain open weekends and school holidays. We’ll be posting our favorite photos of the summer like this one of dusk on the Boardwalk.

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June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 10, 2013: Photo of the Day: Clams on the Half Shell in Coney Island

October 3, 2012: Photo of the Day: The Weekday View from Ruby’s Bar

April 28, 2012: Photo of the Day: Moon Viewing in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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Parachute Jump Lighting Tes

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Friday night in Coney Island, the landmark Parachute Jump will be lit with 8,000 LED lights. Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower will have enough bling to be visible from outer space, advance reports claim. The lighting was installed by Zamperla’s Central Amusements International, which operates Luna Park. Last night, the crowd on the Boardwalk was treated to a dazzling preview of the light show and Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy took this series of photos. “Parachute Jump vibrating to the beat of mermaid’s soul vibrations,” he said, in anticipation of Saturday’s Mermaid Parade.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Originally designed by a retired Naval commander to train military paratroopers in the 1930s, parachute towers were soon modified into amusement attractions when civilians clamored to ride. Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase, the world-famous amusement park that opened on Coney’s fabled shore in 1897.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Along with the pier, the Jump’s tower is the sole survivor of the park that once billed itself “Coney Island’s Only Funny Place, Where 25,000 People Laugh at One Time.” The city-owned landmark’s proximity to the Brooklyn Cyclones’ stadium gave it a new lease on life when the ballpark opened in 2001.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Summer officially arrives this weekend. Friday night’s lighting ceremony will be followed by Coney Island’s first fireworks show of the 2013 season and Saturday’s 31st Annual Mermaid Parade.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

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April 29, 2012: Photo of the Day: Space Shuttle Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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

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Coney Island Sunset with Parachute Jump and Skycoaster

Coney Island Sunset with Parachute Jump and Skycoaster. March 19, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Coney Island resident Bruce Handy photographs sunsets on the Boardwalk nearly every day. This image after a March rainstorm suits today’s somber mood and messages of resilience and strength. The Parachute Jump, the sole survivor of Steeplechase Park, endured years of neglect and threats of demolition before acquiring city landmark status in 1988.

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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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Steeplechase Plaza

B&B Carousell Pavilion Under Construction in Steeplechase Plaza, Coney Island. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When the B&B Carousell reopens in Coney Island next season, the restored 1919 ride will spin in a glass pavilion next to the Parachute Jump. The progress of construction on the pavilion and its new home Steeplechase Plaza can be seen in the above photo. Large-scale neon lettering spelling B&B CAROUSELL will encircle the top of the completed pavilion. Coney Island’s last hand-carved carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased it for $1.8 million from the McCullough family who operated it on the north side of Surf Avenue since the 1970s.

The Parachute Jump, the sole survivor of Steeplechase Park, is also a focal point of Steeplechase Plaza. The red, yellow and blue sheet metal panels and medallions at the base of the Jump are getting a redo as you can see in the photo below.

Construction at the Base of the Parachute Jump

Construction at the Base of the Parachute Jump. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While fans of the Jump continue to hope that the landmark ride will someday be restored to operation, we don’t see that happening due to liability concerns and high costs. In an article that we wrote for Preservation Magazine in 2002, independent ride engineer and certified safety inspector Ed Pribonic expressed concerns about stress on the structure and the viability of reusing original components. “As a visual icon, it’s probably fine,” he said. “When you’re talking about turning it into an operating amusement ride that carries passengers and is subject to thousands of dynamic load cycles a day, then it becomes a different engineering problem.”

Besides, Coney Island is getting a 2.2 acre public plaza on the old Steeplechase site, not a new Steeplechase Park. According to the NYCEDC’s press release issued at the time of last November’s groundbreaking, the plaza will be the western gateway to the revitalized Coney Island and will be large enough to host a variety of events. For the first time, visitors will be able to walk directly underneath the Parachute Jump and gaze up at the latticework structure from the inside. The landmark will also get a new lighting scheme to “bring the bling to Coney Island,” in the words of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Parachute Jump Gateway

Artist Rendering of Parachute Jump Gateway. NYC Economic Development Corporation

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August 2, 2012: New Building Breaks Ground Next to Coney Island’s Stillwell Terminal

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