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Posts Tagged ‘Spring in Coney Island’

Coney Island’s Opening Day ceremonies have been rescheduled for Saturday, March 26th, due to snow forecast for Palm Sunday. The parks will also be open March 25th, Good Friday, and March 27th, Easter Sunday.

In prep for Coney Island’s opening day on March 20th, the Wonder Wheel’s 24 cars were put back on the landmark ride on Friday. As we’ve noted in past years, the annual ritual is regarded as the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the cars go up, the swinging blue and red ones first and then the stationary white, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

This year, videographer Jim McDonnell recorded a wonderful up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the Vourderis family and their longtime crew returning the freshly painted and refurbished cars to the Wheel after the ride’s winter rest. At the 46 second mark, look for Wonder dog Ringo, park co-owner Steve Vourderis’s pet, cutely supervising. Ringo enjoys riding the Wheel and is no doubt anticipating his first ride of the season. So are we!

Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the rest of Coney Island’s rides will go for their first spin of the 2016 season on Palm Sunday, which also happens to be the first day of spring this year, and is just eight days away. The 31st annual Blessing of the Rides at Wonder Wheel Park starts at 11:00am. After the ceremony, there will be free rides for 300 children from the local Salt and Sea Mission, and free rides on Deno’s Wonder Wheel for the first 96 people on line in celebration of the 1920 Wheel’s 96th year.

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Wonder Wheel dog Ringo supervising the return of the cars to the Wheel. March 11, 2016. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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Coney Island Cherry Blossom

Young Cherry Blossom Tree on Wonder Wheel Way, Coney Island. March 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

It’s time to sing “Sakura, Sakura, ya-yo-i no so-ra wa…,” the Japanese folk song about cherry blossoms waving in the breeze. Yesterday in Coney Island, we happened to notice the littlest cherry tree beginning to blossom on Wonder Wheel Way. The sapling was planted last spring, when this section of the new pedestrian street was built between Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street. Deno’s Wonder Wheel, the Astrotower and Scream Zone’s Steeplechase Coaster are seen in the background. Designed to connect the Parachute Jump, Wonder Wheel and Cyclone, Wonder Wheel Way will eventually extend from West 12th to West 10th Street.

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Wonder Wheel on the First Night of Spring. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Wonder Wheel on the First Night of Spring. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

In preparation for March 28th’s official opening of Coney Island’s rides, the cars–stationary and swinging– were put back on the Wonder Wheel today. Along with the open concession stands on the Boardwalk and the spinning rides in Deno’s Kiddie Park, it was the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Thanks to photographer Bruce Handy for this lovely first photo of the Wheel on the first night of spring! “I saw the wheel turning this morning, What a joy!!! Was away all day and when I got back to Coney the cars were on,” writes Bruce.

This year, the 90-year-old Wonder Wheel’s swinging cars will be lit with amber lights that will replicate the lighting scheme of the ride in the 1920s. The big difference is the lights will be powered by solar panels installed on top of the cars, according to an interview with Deno Vourderis in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive. Vourderis’s family owns the New York City landmark and also operates Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, which has 22 rides.

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