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Ringling Circus Costumes

Window Exhibit Featuring Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Costumes at NYU Skirball. January 9, 2016. Photo © Tricia Vita

Thirteen windows at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts are resplendent with costumes designed for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The work of three acclaimed costume designers and NYU graduates is featured: Gregg Barnes (Tony Award, Follies, The Drowsy Chaperone), Susan Hilferty (Tony Award, Wicked), and Eduardo Sicangco (Broadway Bares, The Harlem Nutcracker). The displays also feature circus memorabilia, photographs, and historical info. Located at 566 LaGuardia Place and around the corner on West 3rd Street, the window exhibit debuted during the holidays and is on view through January 18.

The costume exhibit heralds this week’s performances at NYU Skirball by six international circus companies. Circus Now 2016 will feature Acrobatic Conundrum (Seattle), Oktobre (France), Barely Methodical Troupe (U.K), Andréane Leclerc (Canada), Water on Mars (Sweden), and Aloft Circus Arts (Chicago). Performances are January 14, 15 and 16 at 8 pm. Tickets range from $39 – $50. Visit www.nyuskirball.org for additional info.

circus costumes

Window Exhibit Featuring Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Costumes at NYU Skirball. January 9, 2016. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Grand Finale of The Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

You get a lot of entertainment for the price of a ticket to the Coney Island Illuscination–a “thrillusionist” and his beautiful assistant, Kung Fu masters diving through flaming swords, hair-hanging aerialists, Salsa dancing acrobats, tightrope-walking kitty cats, an educated toucan and more. The circus, which is in a tent on the Boardwalk, is here for 12 more performances–Wednesday through Labor Day. Our selection of photos by Bruce Handy, Jim McDonnell and me-myself-i provides a glimpse of what you’ve missed seeing this summer if you haven’t been to the circus in Coney.

Jamieleigh with Blue-Throated Macaw at Pre-Show. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

At the interactive pre-show, which starts 90 minutes before showtime, we met Jamieleigh and a blue-throated macaw, one of the rare and pampered birds in David DaVinci and Jamieleigh’s traveling aviary. On his blog thethrillusionist.com, DaVinci says one of his favorite things to do is take trips to remote locations to freefly their parrots. He also takes in and trains rescued birds that haven’t flown in decades. You might enjoy watching this YouTube video of Jamieleigh and a “hilarious parrot.” More than 23,000 have viewed it so far! In the Coney Island Illuscination, DaVinci, Jamieleigh and a few of their birds perform a variety of Houdiniesque illusions.

Hair-hanging aerialists Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves

Hair-hanging aerialists Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves. Photo © Bruce Handy

Hair hanging?!!! Watching Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves spin by their ponytails is fearsome and sublime. Their act reminds us of the antique Barnum & Bailey poster showing a Chinese troupe nonchalantly sipping tea as they hang by their topknots. Hair hanging is something we’ve seen performed live only once before. Even among extraordinary circus folk, there aren’t a lot of hair hangers. One of our sideshow friends who tried to learn the act tells us a special technique of braiding the hair is what makes it possible, but it’s still excruciatingly painful. Not for the faint of scalp!

Mayya Panfilova with one of her 12 trained house cats in the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Bruce Handy

If we were a little girl, we’d want to be Mayya Panfilova when we grow up. Then we would never be cat lonely. According to the Illuscination website, ten of the twelve performing housecats were handpicked and trained by Panfilova, while the other two were born in her care. The cats balance on top of balls, jump through hoops and walk across a low wire using their front paws. Dear Ms. Panfilova, we suggest you write a book: “How to Train Your Cat to Be a Circus Star.” We predict it will be a bestseller!

Mayya Panfilova with one of her 12 trained house cats in the Coney Island Illuscination Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Mayya Panfilova with one of her 12 trained house cats in the Coney Island Illuscination Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

The theatrical buffoonery of the Trio Caveagna from Italy calls to mind the rich tradition of commedia dell’arte. Artidoro Caveagna and sons Steve and Jones combine music and clowning in a uniquely entertaining way.

Artidoro and Steve Caveagna of the Trio Caveagna. Photo © Bruce Handy

According to the group’s bio: “Artidoro acquired this one-of-a-kind art form from his father Elicio, who was not only an accomplished musician but also a revered clown in Italy. Elicio performed this act for several years in a prominent Italian circus, Circo Nando Orfei, where his performances were legendary.”

Artidoro Caveagna performing with the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Bruce Handy

Steve Caveagna, an 18-year-old clown with the zaniest hairdo in New York City, joined the family act when he was 10. With his elastic body and quirky poses, he’s a natural at physical comedy. While Steve’s father and brother play trumpet and saxophone, he cheerfully drowns them out with his boom-box antics and wins over the audience with hip hop dance moves.

Steve Caveagna of the Trio Caveagna with the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Steve Caveagna of the Trio Caveagna with the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island Illuscination, Surf Ave at W 21 St, Coney Island, 800-745-3000, through Sept 6, 2010.

The Illuscination’s “Gold Tour” runs through March 2011 and includes stops in upstate New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida.

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June 5, 2010: Ringling Circus Back in Coney Island, Congrats to Trivia Contest Winners!

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

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Heidi Herriott with Mini Donkeys at the Coney Island Boom a Ring Circus Menagerie.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Heidi Herriott with Mini Donkeys at the Coney Island Boom a Ring Circus Menagerie. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night at the Boom A Ring Circus, I got to meet and take photos of “Cyclone,” a cute and frisky 5-1/2-week-old miniature donkey. Born during the Ringling Circus’s summer run in Coney Island, the baby donkey was named in honor of the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster. The donkeys are housed in a section of the big top called “Animal Open House” which is open to ticketholders 90 minutes before the show. The exhibit includes both performing animals (tigers, elephants) and non-performing animals (llamas, horses, donkeys etc).

Born in Coney Island: Miniature Donkey named Cyclone. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Born in Coney Island: Miniature Donkey named "Cyclone." Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

It was a pleasure to meet third generation circus performer and animal trainer Heidi Herriott, who is in charge of the Boom A Ring’s menagerie of non-performing animals. I knew about Heidi’s work organizing a circus division for the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA), but had no idea she was with Ringling in Coney Island until our mutual friend OABA President Bob Johnson said “Say Hi to Heidi.” During my visit, Heidi answered questions from guests, cleaned the stalls and set up this great photo op with the Boom A Ring’s very own Coney Island Baby. More pix in my flickr set. Thanks, Heidi!

Performances of the Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus continue through Monday, September 7. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out everybody’s photos of the show on flickr and see what you’re missing!

Circus performer and animal trainer Heidi Herriott manages Coney Island Boom a Rings Menagerie. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Circus performer and animal trainer Heidi Herriott manages Coney Island Boom a Ring's Menagerie. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ...

August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 9, 2009: More Genuine Coney Island Kittens Up for Adoption!

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

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Eccentric Bicyclist Justin Case. Opening Night Performance of Ringlings Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo © Pablo57 via flickr

Eccentric Bicyclist Justin Case. Opening Night Performance of Ringling's Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo © Pablo57 via flickr

photo via pablo57, flickr

Those of us who work or live in Coney Island are especially thrilled to have the Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus in residence this season. The fave circus performer of quite a few Coney Island regulars, including ATZ, is the comedic trick cyclist Justin Case. Billed as an “Eccentric Personality Extraordinaire,” the Australian plays a flustered Frenchman who brilliantly pedals his way through the show and into our hearts.

Justin Case Riding Tiny Bike. Photo courtesy of Ringling Bros.

Justin Case Riding Tiny Bike. Photo courtesy of Ringling Bros.

Amazing fact #1: Since the circus opened on June 18, Justin has clocked nearly 4 miles riding a tiny bicycle round the ring and through a flaming hoop of fire! The virtuoso cyclist shared this amazing stat (by way of comparison, the entire length of the Boardwalk is 2.7 miles) in a recent Q & A with ATZ. The full interview including amazing facts #2 and 3 after the jump.

If you haven’t seen the Coney Island Boom A Ring aka Ringling’s Gold Unit yet, what are you waiting for? There’s lots of entertainment at this one ring circus for the price of a $10 ticket: aerialists, acrobats, Globe of Death motorcyclists, trained tigers, elephants, dachshunds and more. Circus bloggers are calling it “pure gold” and “a fine-tuned circus machine, endowed with a host of top-drawer talents full of inventive sparkle.” The Boom A Ring’s blue- and-yellow striped tent is pitched at 21st Street and the Boardwalk in Coney Island through September 7.

Tricks of an Eccentric Cyclist’s Trade

Q: What was the inspiration for the tiny bicycle that you ride in your act?

A: At the time I started doing the little bike there was a trend towards 14′ – 15′ unicycles – they were just getting taller and taller – if one guy had a 6′, the next guy had an 8′ and so on. I went against the trend! Also the little bike through the hoop of fire is an homage to all the circus animals who have jumped through hoops of fire in the last century!

In his Ringling Circus Debut, Justin Case Rides a Tiny Bike through a Ring of Fire. Opening Night Performance of Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo © Pablo57 via flickr

In his Ringling Circus Debut, Justin Case Rides a Tiny Bike through a Ring of Fire. Opening Night Performance of Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo © Pablo57 via flickr

photo via pablo57, flickr

Q: My friend Deb Stern who went to the circus with me along with her son kind of summed it up when she wrote: “Shane just can’t get over the “tiny” bike and wanted to know what the trick was because he just couldn’t/can’t believe that it was what he was seeing. It really is amazing. I don’t think my body was ever small enough to be able to ride something that small. The man must get leg cramps. I wonder what ever got him started with bikes? I have not come up with any good questions…..they all seem soooo simple……I’m just in awe of the guy..”

Is the small bicycle you ride through the ring of fire the smallest bicycle in existence? What are its dimensions? Does the bicycle hold a Guinness World Record for smallest bicycle?

A: I must say I am very humbled by the fantastic reception I receive from my audiences. I really haven’t investigated the Guinness book of records – but I’m told the one in the Guinness book of records is smaller than mine but uses a long pole with a seat that means the rider is able to sit down – it’s really just the pads of my big toes that sit on the pedals – most of the weight is supported on my arms like a crouching handstand. There’s no trick – just sore knees! I always tell kids go and do gymnastics you learn so much about your body and how to orientate your self in space. I’ve measured the bike against Barbies’ bike in a toy store and I know it’s smaller than Barbie’s!

Justin Case Bicycles through a Ring of Fire in Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Justin Performs the Most Difficult Stunt. Photo courtesy of Ringling Bros.

Q: How long did you have to train to ride the tiny bicycle? Did you start with tiny bicycles that were larger in size and work your way down?

A: The fabrication proved harder than the riding it – I made it with the help of a friend. As far as riding it goes, it was just the ‘try, try again’ principal, but it is funny when it goes wrong because you have no time to get your hands down so you just head butt the floor, which proved to be a great motivating factor. I calculated recently that I’ve ridden it just under 4 miles since we opened the show here on Coney Island!

Q: What is the most difficult stunt in your act and why? People are split as to whether it’s the tiny bicycle or the unicycle hop over the volunteer from the audience. I’d go with the tiny…

A: Actually it’s neither! Although both are difficult – obviously with a volunteer lying on the ground there’s a huge responsibility to keep him safe, especially if he’s a nervous type and keeps moving as they sometimes are – the tiny bike is rough on the knees – but as far as technical difficulty goes, it’s when the front wheel comes off the bike, I ride around and pick it up, then put it back on the front forks and secure it again – it took me a year -practicing three hours a day – before I did it the first time. Then I broke one of my ankle bones in three places doing another tick and had to relearn the wheel trick again three months later when my ankle had healed. On occasion I will get to the very last step only to have to go back and do the whole thing gain. Bumps in the floor, sloping surfaces etc all make it a very tough trick to complete – and like I say – I’m the first person to do that trick – It is surprising how hard it is to be original. Still it is more how you do it than what you do.

Q: What about that unicycle hop over the volunteer from the audience? At the dress rehearsal the volunteer was Nathan Bliss of the Coney Island Development Corp. Nate gave me an entertaining description of the stunt from his perspective: “I’ve always wanted to run away and join the circus, so I was thrilled to be pulled out of the crowd and asked to perform some modest-but-challenging acrobatic moves. The highlight of the experience, of course, was surviving Justin’s unicycle hop–during which he came excruciatingly close to depriving the Bliss family of future lineage! All told, it was a thrill to be a part of the very first ever Ringling show in Coney Island, and even more of a thrill to share the experience with so many folks from the community who received free tickets to attend the Circus that night. On our way out of the tent, I was stopped by many children in the audience who recognized me and wanted my autograph!”

What’s the hop like from your perspective?

Justin Case Performing Unicycle Hop with Volunteer Nathan Bliss. Photo © Maya Haddad via flickr

Justin Case Performing Unicycle Hop with Volunteer Nathan Bliss. Photo © Maya Haddad via flickr

A: The trick can be stressful – as I said before – you don’t want to hurt someone – but it can also be a lot of fun with the right volunteer. The audience love it when I ride up between the guy’s legs, and once I start to jump over his arms and legs the guy usually relaxes a bit. I try to make the guy look good – doing the hand balance etc. so that he gets some applause from the crowd early on which helps him relax. I like to give them the Polaroid at the end as a thank you – after all – they’ve been a big part of my act.

Q: Oh, and Nate’s question is “How’d I do?”

A: You were good – relaxed, so the audience were relaxed too- smiling and a good sport. Most importantly you didn’t flinch – makes my job so much harder when people do!

Success! Ringling Performer Justin Case and Volunteer Nate Bliss. Photo © Maya Haddad via flickr

Success! Ringling Performer Justin Case and Volunteer Nate Bliss. Photo © Maya Haddad via flickr

From Boyhood in Australia to Circus School in France…

Q: I read in your bio that you were only 4 when you taught yourself to ride a bicycle. What are your memories of riding a bike as a young child?

A: The sense of freedom the bicycle gave me was something I loved – the freedom and independence to explore and leave my neighborhood.

Q: What is your earliest memory of why you wanted to join the circus?

A: I didn’t go to the circus as a child and wasn’t exposed to it until I was about 20 while traveling in Europe – but throughout my early life I’d always had an affinity for sport, the visual arts and the theatrical arts – when I saw circus it seemed to encompass all of those creative and physical elements – it was a place with no limits and no boundaries.

Q: I see a number of illustrious European circus schools on your bio–Annie Fratellini‘s school in Paris, Ecole Sans Filet in Brussels, and the French National School of Circus in Chalons-en-Champagne. How difficult was it to get into these schools?

A: It was hard – it involved auditioning – lengthy processes – and having a very clear vision of what one hoped to achieve in the world of circus – at the time I tried to attend the European schools there was no internet and no way of finding out about them other than getting on a plane and going from Australia to Europe and knocking on their doors – which is quite literally what I did!

Ringling Circus star Justin Case was born in Australia, studied at circus schools in France and has performed all over the world.  Photo © Pablo57 via flickr

Ringling Circus star Justin Case was born in Australia, studied at circus schools in France and has performed all over the world. Photo © Pablo57 via flickr

photo via pablo57, flickr

Q: Can you tell us a funny or illuminating anecdote about your days at circus school?

A: When I arrived at the French National School of Circus in Chalons I spoke no French – I would just turn up for classes and follow everyone else – at one point I turned up for dance class and for three straight weeks I was the only student – no one else showed, including the teacher – turned out he’d explained to the class that he would be absent for a while as he was going away to perform elsewhere. Of course I hadn’t understood that – also, Chalons is in the middle of the champagne producing region in France. The students would often perform for the various vineyards and as well as being paid we would we would also often receive complimentary bottles of champagne. By the end of the year we had a whole wall full of cases of champagne that no one could face drinking – we were so sick of the taste of it!

Q: And how old were you when you first started busking?

A:I first started busking when I was 23 in 1988 – also working with a community based circus with kids in youth detention centers.

Q: Your bio says: “Justin looked into the comic stylings of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati for inspiration.”
What are your favorite stunts or slapstick bits in Keaton or Chaplin films?

A: My favourite thing about these artists is they always double cross you – you expect one thing and something else will happen. All three are dealing with the human condition in such an innocent and positive manner. I think that as we all face the the joke of life, it is comforting to see characters do it with good humor, in the knowledge that there but for the grace of God go I.

Justin Case riding handlebars. Photo courtesy of Ringling Bros.

Justin Case riding handlebars. Photo courtesy of Ringling Bros.

Coney Island and Beyond

Q: Do you practice everyday?
I practice a lot when I’m not working – several times a week – but when we’re in a long run such as this it’s more about maintaining fitness and rest

Q: What is your workout routine?

A: Fairly simple – chin ups, sit ups, general stretching

Q: What do you do on your days off?

A: Play as much golf as possible!!!! ( Handicap of 10)

Q: Do you go bike riding in NYC or on the Boardwalk? (or do you just ride in the circus)

A: I do ride in NYC but I like to use my motorbike – I’ve loved exploring Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan on my motorcycle a Suzuki V strom 1000.

Q: What are your impressions of Coney Island? What are some of the amusements, attractions, or restaurants etc that you and your wife have enjoyed?

A: We’ve very much enjoyed Footprints, Gargiulo’s, Tatiana’s and Umi Sushi who deliver all the time to the circus lot! My favourite dish is the New Zealand lamb at Gargiulo’s. My wife and I have enjoyed walking along the boardwalk a lot – especially after shows in the evening when it’s cooler – so many different nationalities, families, couples etc all just enjoying the ocean – it’s very relaxing – we’ve also enjoyed exploring and shopping at Brighton Beach.

Q: Have you had a chance to ride the Wonder Wheel? Swinging or Stationary Seat? The Cyclone? How was it? Time Magazine quoted Charles Lindbergh as saying that a ride on the Cyclone was more thrilling than his historic first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

A: Not ridden them yet but they are on our list of must-dos before we leave!

Q: How often do you get back “home” to Melbourne, Australia?

A: Haven’t really been home in the last three years and won’t get back until February of next year – unfortunately our house was destroyed in the Melbourne bush fires this February so there isn’t really any longer a home to go back to. My parents’ home was also destroyed and we’ve been dealing with all of that since.

Q: Did you ever visit and can you tell us something about Luna Park in Sydney or Melbourne? Many parks around the world were inspired by Coney Island’s legendary Luna Park (1903-1946), but the Australian parks are among the few still in existence, so we’re very curious to know more about them.

A: This is a huge coincidence but my very first paid gig ever was at Luna Park in Melbourne! I also used to busk outside there all the time – there was a move a few years ago to bulldoze the area but people are rightly very attached to Luna Park and it was saved, and I think recently reopened.

Justin doing handstand with volunteer from audience. Photo courtesy of Ringing Bros.

Justin doing handstand with volunteer from audience. Photo courtesy of Ringing Bros.

Q: I read on Buckles circus blog that the Boom-A-Ring circus is scheduled to go to Italy after its Coney Island run. Will you be traveling there too? This brings me to the next question–how many languages do you speak? In Italy, will you emcee the show in Italian? French?

A: Yes we go to Italy, Spain and Germany. I’ll probably keep the French but include some Spanish or Italian phrases where I can – I speak French and some Spanish, and if we’ve been doing shows in Japan I’ll do it in Japanese , but not the whole act translated – just pertinent points. When we were working in Beirut I got to do some Arabic cursing which was fun. And incidentally, it’s been surprising how many people here in the Coney Island audiences do speak French.

Q: Thank you! I look forward to seeing the show again before the summer is over. Please come back to Coney Island next year!

A: Thank you so much Tricia – I enjoyed answering your questions and I hope that the circus being here has made some small difference in bringing people back to Coney Island.

Thanks to Maya Haddad of the Coney Island Beach Shop and Pablo57, Coney Island resident and photographer, for permission to use their wonderful photos and for contributing questions.

Through Sept. 7: Ringling Bros.Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Through Sept. 7: Ringling Bros.Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

June 15, 2009: Coney Island-O-Rama: Weekly Events June 15-21

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Hippie bus mer people. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Hippie bus mer people. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This week is an eventful one in Coney Island. Ringling Bros. troupe of acrobats, daredevils, clowns, tigers, elephants and dachshunds are arriving for a summer-long run. The Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus opens on Thursday, June 18th. The Brooklyn Cyclones season opener and the first Friday Night Fireworks of the season are on Friday, June 19th. Mer people from all over the world are on the way to Coney for the 2009 Mermaid Parade and Ball on Saturday, June 20. See you there!

MONDAY, JUNE 15

Live Jazz at Cha Cha’s Bar & Cafe on the Boardwalk

Puppets Jazz Club of Park Slope & JT of Cha Cha’s present Live Jazz on Mondays at Cha Cha’s of Coney Island.

Monday, June 15, Cha-Cha’s, Boardwalk just east of Stillwell Ave, 718-946-1305

TUESDAY, JUNE 16

Ringling Bros.Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus opens for the summer on Thursday, June 18.  Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Ringling Bros.Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus opens for the summer on Thursday, June 18. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Ringling Circus event celebrating the renaming of 21st Street “BOOM A RING Blvd.” for the summer

Don’t forget your camera! Members of the Coney Island Rumor Mill have been expecting their first sighting of Ringling’s Asian elephants at Tuesday’s celebration. It turns out there is a Ringling Boom A Ring Rumor Mill too! They’re sayin’ the elephants will not be part of tomorrow’s event, but the performers will be there to meet their new neighbors. It will be FUN….

The celebration will include representatives of and performers from The Greatest Show On Earth, the unveiling of “BOOM A RING Blvd.” and “Elephant Crossing” signs, special guest Lynn Kelly, President of the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), and music courtesy of Brooklyn’s own Soul Tigers Marching Band.

“We are thrilled that the Ringling Brother’s Circus has come to Coney Island,” said CIDC President Lynn Kelly. “With the Circus in town, and Coney’s iconic rides and amusements really fun and really open this summer, this is the beginning of what we hope is a long relationship with Ringling Brother’s and a preview of what’s to come.”

Tuesday, June 16 at 11 a.m. Corner of 21st Street and Surf Avenue, Coney Island

Ringling Bros Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Posters in Stillwell Station. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ringling Bros Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Posters in Stillwell Station. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

THURSDAY, JUNE 18

Opening Night of Ringling Bros. “Coney Island Boom-A-Ring” Circus with a special performance saluting Coney Island

Performers include Vicenta Pages and her seven white Bengal tigers; the daredevil Urias family with their Motorcycle Globe; the Negrey Troupe of Russian acrobats; “Eccentric Personality” and bicyclist extraordinaire Justin Case; Diana Yedvashkina and her dachshund dog act; and a trio of Asian elephants. The Circus will run on Thursdays through Sundays from June 18th through September 7th. Tickets cost $10-$65.

Thursday, June 18, Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring, Surf Ave and 21st St, Coney Island, 800-745-3000

Justin Case Bicycles through a Ring of Fire in Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Justin Case Bicycles through a Ring of Fire in Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

FRIDAY, JUNE 19

Time’s Up First Bicycle Ride of the Season to Coney Island from Manhattan

The group’s “Coney Island Cyclone Ride” goes to Coney Island’s Amusement District from Manhattan and is described as a casual bike ride at a relaxed pace.

This season’s first ride meets on June 19 at 7:00 pm on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge (SW corner of Chambers and Centre St/Park Row) OR 7:25 in Brooklyn at the Carroll St Drawbridge (between Nevins and Bond) OR 7:50 at the 69th St Pier in Brooklyn at the Shore Pkwy bike path entrance (take 68th St). It arrives in time for the fireworks. Upcoming rides are on July 10 and August 21.

Friday, June 19, Time’s Up, NYC’s Direct Action Environmental Organization, timesup@panix.com, 212-802-8222

Brooklyn Cyclones Season Opener and Friday Night Fireworks

Staten Island Yankees vs Brooklyn Cyclones at Keyspan Stadium at 7:00 pm. The first Friday Night Fireworks of the season are at 9:30 pm. The Friday Night Fireworks are sponsored by the Brooklyn Cyclones on 7 nights from June to September. Additional dates of Friday Night Fireworks are sponsored by Carol Albert of the Cyclone Roller Coaster and former Astroland; the Vourderis family of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team. Additional participants in the fireworks include Nathan’s, the Aquarium, the Coney Island Development Corporation, and City Councilman Domenic Recchia’s office. Please show your appreciation for the continuation of this Coney tradition by patronizing the sponsors!

Friday, June 19, Brooklyn Cyclones, Keyspan Stadium, 1904 Surf Avenue, 718-449-8497

SATURDAY, JUNE 20

Coney Island USA’s 2009 Mermaid Parade

Featuring King Neptune Harvey Keitel and Queen Mermaid Daphna, The Uptown String Band from The Philadelphia Mummers Parade, Recording artists They Might Be Giants performing on a float, Monster Truck ‘Blue Thunder’ performing a parade prelude, and performers from Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey’s Boom A Ring Circus.

Mermaid Parade, Saturday, June 20th, 2PM! Rain or Shine!

The Mermaid Ball at Dreamland Roller Rink

The Ball will run in two skating sessions: 5:30pm-8:30pm and 9pm-Midnight. Tickets are $20, skate rental $5. DJ Misbehavior, Burlesque and Sideshow performances. Concession stand will be open, alcohol is prohibited.

The first 100 guests who present their ticket stub from the
June 20th 6:30pm Circus benefit for Coney Island USA will get $10 admission to the 9pm skate session.

Mermaid Ball at Dreamland Roller Rink, Boardwalk at 21st St, Coney Island

Amy Winehouse Marches in Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

"Amy Winehouse" Marches in Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

SUNDAY, JUNE 21

Free Exhibition: “Coney Island Icons: The Story Behind the Landmarks of the World’s Playground”

The Coney Island History Project’s free public exhibition center is located on Surf Avenue under the Cyclone roller coaster. This season’s featured exhibition uses archival and contemporary photos, documents, anecdotes, interviews, souvenirs and artifacts to tell the story of Coney Island’s four city landmarks — The Cyclone Roller Coaster, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump and Childs Building. The exhibition is curated by historian Charles Denson, the author of the book Coney Island:Lost and Found. The exhibition center is open 1:00- 6:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Coney Island History Project, 834 Surf Ave, just east of 10th St, Coney Island, 718- 266-0012

The Coney Island History Project’s free public exhibition center under the Cyclone Roller Coaster is open on weekends.  Photo by Coney Island History Project via flickr

The Coney Island History Project’s free public exhibition center under the Cyclone Roller Coaster is open on weekends. Photo by Coney Island History Project via flickr

Roller Dance Skate Classes at Dreamland Roller Rink

The Miss’ile Roller Dance Crew from France will be teaching a dance workshop at Dreamland on Sundays from 3-4:30 p.m. $20 class price includes free admission to Dreamland Discoteque.

Dreamland Roller Rink, Boardwalk at 21st Street, Coney Island, 800-362-5116

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April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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June 4: In readiness for today's tent raising, the support structures for the Ringling Circus tent join the Parachute Jump on the Coney Island skyline. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

June 4: In readiness for today

photo via rbbbconeyisland, flickr

This morning in Coney Island, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus raised their tent for the upcoming Coney Island Boom-A-Ring Circus on a newly paved lot. Just a few blocks away Thor Equities still tentless flea market’s dirt lot was flooded. A notice on Thor’s Festival by the Sea website said “Closed Due to Bad Weather.” This is a tale of poor site prep and planning by Thor’s team vs. excellent site prep work and planning by the Ringling folks.

Since May 15 a construction crew has been at work on the Circus’s 21st Street site adjacent to the Childs Building on the Boardwalk. The dirt lot was blacktopped and floodlights were installed in preparation for Coney Island Boom-A-Ring’s June 18 opening night. The transformation of the empty lot is documented on Ringling’s flickr set called Renovating the Coney Island Boom A Ring Site. In April the Bay News reported that Taconic Investment Partners, the owner of the property, donated $100,000 toward site prep work as well as the use of the land rent-free.

As May turned to June, dirt turned to blacktop -- and lighting for the Ringling Circus site in Coney Island was being installed. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

As May turned to June, dirt turned to blacktop -- and lighting for the Ringling Circus site in Coney Island was being installed. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

photo via rbbbconeyisland, flickr

A press release from Feld Entertainment said:

Traveling nearly 3,500 miles from Mobile Stadiums, Ltd. in Sheffield, England, to Coney Island, the state-of-the-art air-conditioned main tent is approximately 28,842 sq. ft. and will seat 2,400 patrons for each performance. The foyer tent, which will house the food court, is approximately 8,625 sq. ft. Both will be the most visible cornerstones of Feld Entertainment’s major site renovation. Throughout the process, Feld has worked closely with lot owner Taconic Investment Partners, whose cooperation has been instrumental in bringing The Greatest Show On Earth to Coney Island.

Meanwhile a few blocks away in Sittland West (Joe Sitt’s property at Stillwell Ave & Bowery), Thor Equities flea market was closed today because the rock-strewn dirt lot is waterlogged due to the recent rain. Now that it’s a pool of water perhaps Joe Sitt should consider bringing back the Bumper Boats, which he evicted along with the other longtime amusements in 2007 to get an early start on “site prep work”. What site prep work? Pablo Jonsey posted pix and wrote on the Coney Island Message Board:

The site is now flooded with no drains for the rain water. The concrete footings have formed a huge bathtub, with no place for the water to go. The first thing Ringlings Circus group did, after paving the site with asphalt was to install drains connected to the NYC sewer system.

Sitt’s engineering company, which happens to be located in the same building I work in midtown, is a joke. They design the tent supports incorrectly and don’t even look for underground drainage.

Last month ATZ reported on the postponed grand opening of Thor’s tentless flea due to “threat of bad weather” and C of O problems. Last Sunday afternoon I strolled through Thor’s Festival by the Flea (not a typo) to find approximately 35 vendors displaying their wares under the tentless structure on the east side of Stillwell. The entertainment at Thor’s self-described “uniquely entertaining and amusing marketplace” consisted of a band and two Disney mascots. Is that all it takes to make the flea market legal in Coney’s C-7 amusement zone?

DVDS for sale at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

DVDS for sale at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Many vendors were first-timers drawn by the steeply discounted fee of $25 per day. The regular fees listed on the festival’s website range from $100-$525 per day on a weekend. On a table at the entrance I picked up a flier offering a two-fer—-introduce a friend and get two spaces for $25. Tables and chairs cost extra. Wear rubber hip waders.

Thors poor site prep: The rock strewn dirt lot is hard on sandaled feet. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Thor's poor site prep: The rock strewn dirt lot is hard on sandaled feet. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

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December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

June 7, 2009: Sundown at Thor’s Unamusing “Festival by the Sea” Flea

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