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Coney Island Talent Show

Got talent? Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions, the creator and producer of the Coney Island Talent Show, has posted an open call for contestants for the sixth annual contest, which offers over $2,500 in cash and prizes. The talent show’s three categories are Creative Kids 9-12 years old, Creative Kids 13-17 years old, and Song, Dance & Variety, 18 and up. The stage is on the Boardwalk before thousands–no, wait–zillions of people, as well as the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and July 15 is the deadline to apply for the July 25 show.

Coney Island Talent Show

Coney Island Talent Show 2014. 3rd place winner of Creative kids 9-12 years old, Elana Caceres. Photo © Robin Souma

So far, Jen has gotten more adults and older kids and “could use a little push for the little ones,” she says. In past years, the talent show has presented singers, musicians, dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists and snake charmers, among others. Here are a few photos of last year’s winners in the Creative Kids, 9-12 Category. Last year, Tori Famularo won first place in the her age group for her rendition of The Girl in 14G. To apply to perform in the show, visit coneyislandtalentshow.com.

Troi Famularo

Tori Famularo singing The Girl in 14G in the 2014 Coney Island Talent Show. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

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The 4th Annual Coney Island Talent Show is tomorrow, July 27, from 3-8PM. It’s too late to register to perform, but spectating is free. The stage is on the Boardwalk between West 10th and West 12th Streets. Here’s what it looked like last year — once again the talent categories are Creative Kids, Song and Dance, and Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks! Produced by Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions and emceed by The World Famous *BOB*, the Coney Island Talent Show is sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island.

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Coney Island Fireworks Posters. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Coney Island is still the People’s Playground. You can come here with a couple of bucks in your pocket and have a great time people watching on the boardwalk. Here’s our guide to more than a dozen free events this summer, including fireworks, music, dancing and movies on the beach. Stay tuned for the 2012 schedule of the Seaside Summer Concert Series, which will once again be held at Surf Avenue and 21st Street in Coney Island beginning in mid-July. Update July 7: The free concerts begin on July 12 with Gloria Gaynor and the Village People. Among the six summer concerts are Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on August 9 and Gladys Knight and the Commodores on August 16. Check the Seaside Concert website for full schedule and details.

Friday Night Fireworks, June 15 through August 31. Coney Island Boardwalk. The first Friday night fireworks of Coney’s 2012 season begin today at 9:30 pm. The free summer-long show is once again sponsored by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park including the Scream Zone and the Cyclone, and the Brooklyn Cyclones. In addition, the Cyclones have scheduled fireworks on their Opening Day– Monday, June 18th—as well as on Wednesday, July 4th, and four Saturdays when they have home games: July 7, August 4, August 11 and August 25. Friday night “Karaoke on the Boardwalk” in front of the Wonder Wheel also starts today from 7pm.

Coney Island Dancers

Coney Island Dancers. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Coney Island Dancers Outdoor Dance Parties, Boardwalk at W 10th Street and W 15th Street. Dance and party at two locations on the Boardwalk this summer with the Coney Island Dancers. CID’s Commander-in-chief Rican Vargas–he’s the guy in military whites– says the group has been performing on the boardwalk for almost 15 years: “Just follow your ears to the beat and your eyes to the gathering.” The weekend parties are 12 noon till 8pm, with a street festival set for Saturday, August 18th on West 10th Street. Check the schedule on CID’s website.

Pet Costume Contest. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Pet Day and Pet Costume Contest, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Saturday, June 16. Last Year’s 1st Annual Pet Day was an occasion for costumed dogs and one lucky parrot to parade on the Boardwalk and ride in miniature floats. The pooches wore a sailor hat, an opera hat, sunglasses and even a Hawaiian skirt. We’re hoping to see a Noah’s Ark of exotic pets this year–how about a hermit crab or an iguana? The costume contest begins at 2pm, with preregistration recommended for the 25 slots. Pets are also invited to ride the Wonder Wheel with their owners. Sonny, a Rottweiler owned by Wonder Wheel Park’s Vourderis family, used to ride all day in his very own car. He loved the Wonder Wheel. RIP Sonny.

Abe Feinstein at the Coney Island History Project. Photo © Coney Island History Project.

“Abe Feinstein: 50 Years of Coney Island Photography,” Coney Island History Project, through July 1. In the History Project’s free exhibit center on 12th Street, you’ll see photos of a vanished Coney Island that you won’t find anywhere else. Abe Feinstein, 83, has been photographing his neighborhood since he moved to Luna Park Houses in 1962. Selected and printed by History Project director Charles Denson, the images include icons like Steeplechase Park’s Pavilion of Fun, the Parachute Jump in action, and Shatzkin’s Knishes, where signs advertised huckleberry and cherry knishes. The show runs through July 1 at the exhibit center, which is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon till 6pm.

Mermaid Parade

Mermaid Parade founder Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA beating his drum. Photo © Tricia Vita

Mermaid Parade, June 23. We’ve met New Yorkers who passionately proclaim their love for Coney Island though they come here only once a year for the Mermaid Parade. It’s worth the trip from anywhere. If you plan to join the parade as a mermaid or other sea creature, we recommend registering in advance. Our fave free spot to watch (and photograph) the parade is near the reviewing stand on Surf Avenue at West 12th Street, where marching groups strut their stuff and bribe the judges. Other good spots to watch the parade for free are on Surf Avenue at the corner of Stillwell facing Nathan’s or West 10th near the Cyclone. The Boardwalk has great ambiance, but you’ll miss seeing the hippie buses and vintage cars. This year the parade is celebrating its 30th anniversary and is bound to be jam-packed. It starts at 2pm. Don’t be late–or you may find yourself unable to swim across Surf Avenue!

Hot Dog Eating Contest

Sound Check for Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. Photo © Tricia Vita

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, July 4. The Road to Coney for 15 regional qualifiers leads to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues for “The Big Dance.” If you can’t make it, the event will be televised live on ESPN at 3 pm. Yes, that’s right, the traditional starting time of “high noon” has been changed due to ESPN’s live coverage of the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals. On the plus side, the one-hour telecast will also include coverage of the Women’s Championship. Go, Sonya! UPDATE June 26: According to a press release from Major League Eating, the contest was changed back to its original starting time of 12 noon, with the women’s championship at 11:30 am. Traffic jam averted: “An expected crowd of some 40,000 for the contest followed by an early evening Cyclones game required the contest to be moved back to 12 Noon.”

Coney Island Film Series

Coney Island Flicks on the Beach Summer Film Series. Photo Courtesy of EPIX

Flicks on the Beach, Schedule TBA. Last summer, Flicks on the Beach was a welcome new addition to Coney’s roster of free summer-long events and will be returning this season though the schedule has yet to be announced. The Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), NYC & Company and EpixHD partnered with Rooftop Films to launch the free Monday night film series on the beach. The event drew over 3,000 attendees to its eight movie screenings featuring such popular films as Saturday Night Fever, Annie Hall and Moonstruck along with pre-show entertainment and contests. Which flicks would you like to see this summer? UPDATE July 9: The 2012 season of Flicks on the Beach began on July 2 and continues on Monday nights through August 6 August 13. The schedule includes Bound for Glory featuring David Carradine as Woody Guthrie, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, and Jim Henson’s The Muppets. Full schedule here. The show begins at dusk on the beach near West 10th Street.

Sand Sculpting Contest

Sand Sculpting Contest, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

22nd Annual Sand Sculpting Contest & Unity Day, July 21. According to the contest sponsor Astella Development, amateur sculptors will compete in five categories for cash prizes of $400, $200 and $100. The contest takes place on the beach from West 10th to West 12th Streets, where fifty mounds of sand are prepared by the Parks Department for the sand sculptors to transform into works of art. Pre-register online at Astella’s website.

Coney Island Talent Show

Coney Island Talent Show. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

3rd Annual Coney Island Talent Show, July 28. The first Coney Island Talent Show – “A spectacle of sunshine and lollipops on the Boardwalk!”–was the most successful new Coney event of the season. It featured singers, dancers, magicians and jugglers, as well as a contortionist, a sword swallower, and Justin Bieber and Jackie Gleason impersonators. The 3rd annual talent show might feature — you! Producer Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions has posted an open call for contestants for this year’s contest. The talent show’s four categories are Creative Kids 9-12 years old, Creative Kids 13-17 years old, Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks, Song and Dance, and Best Drag Performance or Celebrity Impersonator. For an application visit coneyislandtalentshow.com.

Witches in Bikinis

Wonder Wheel Music Marathon. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

7th Annual Deno’s Wonder Wheel Music Marathon, August 4 and 18. A dozen rock and surf bands including The Clams, Strange But Surf, and Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion! will play on the Boardwalk in front of the Wonder Wheel for two Saturdays in August from 2pm. Brooklyn babes Witches in Bikinis are perennial faves. According to their bio, the group formed in 2005 for a performance of ‘Witches In Bikinis’ with one singer and two witch back-ups at The Slipper Room in Manhattan’s Lower East Side for a fundraiser. Current witches Ali, Dreamie, Kaitlin, Kendra and Ruthie will cast their spell on August 18.

History Day

Spook-A-Rama’s Cyclops on History Day. Photo © Jim McDonnell

2nd Annual History Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and The Coney Island History Project, August 11 August 12. For the second year in a row, the 92-year-old landmark Wonder Wheel teams up with the non-profit Coney Island History Project to bring live music, entertainment and history to the heart of Coney Island. Last year, Spook-A-Rama’s legendary Cyclops came out of retirement to join in the fun. At this season’s event, the Hungry March Band, Banjo Rascals, Benjamin Ickies & the Coney Island Screamers, and Lady Circus will perform on the Boardwalk, West 12th Street and throughout Wonder Wheel Park. A Coney trivia contest with historian Charles Denson and a Wonder Wheel Draw-a-thon are some of this year’s activities. Prizes include ride passes and souvenirs of good ol’ Coney Island.

Luna Park Dancers

Dancers at Luna Park. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

New York City’s Got Talent and End of Summer Concert, Luna Park. August. Luna Park is launching two brand-new free events in August. On three consecutive Fridays–August 3, 10 and 17–performers will compete in “New York City’s Got Talent” for the chance to perform in Z100’s End of Summer Concert at Luna Park. The concert promises “today’s hottest performers, as well as known & loved Brooklyn talent” and will be held on West 10th Street on August 24. (Update…August 10 show rescheduled for Sunday, August 12, 4-7pm)

Many thanks to Coney Island photographers Bruce Handy and Jim McDonnell for their photos.

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Imagine making your stage debut on the Coney Island Boardwalk before thousands–no, wait–zillions of people, as well as the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump. If you’ve got talent, this could be your lucky break: Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions, the creator and producer of the Coney Island Talent Show, has posted an open call for contestants for this year’s contest. The talent show’s four categories are Creative Kids 9-12 years old, Creative Kids 13-17 years old, Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks, and Song and Dance. July 15 is the deadline for applications for the July 30 show.

Last July’s First Annual Coney Island Talent Show – “A spectacle of sunshine and lollipops on the Boardwalk!”–was the most successful new Coney event of the season. It featured singers, dancers, magicians and jugglers, as well as a contortionist, a sword swallower, and Justin Bieber and Jackie Gleason impersonators. Here’s a video featuring clips of some of last year’s contestants. The world-class hula hooper in the vid is not a contestant by the way. She is Miss Saturn, who co-hosted the show with the World Famous BOB.

Gapay says the contest’s Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks category welcomes all variety and novelty acts, including circus and sideshow performers plus drag and celebrity impersonators. Song and Dance includes both solo performers and troupes. The top three contestants in each category will win cash prizes—$250, $100 and $50— as well as passes to participating Coney Island attractions. There’s a “special mystery prize” for the best-dressed person in each category. Sponsors of the contest include Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones, Nathan’s, the New York Aquarium, the City’s Parks Department and the Coney Island Development Corporation.

Contestants are requested to fill out an application on the contest’s website and post a video of the act they plan to perform. Seven lucky contestants in each category will be selected by local talent scouts to compete in the July 30th show on the Boardwalk.

Here’s Phineas, a comic daredevil who was awarded one of the first prizes at last year’s First Annual Coney Island Talent Show. Can anybody top this?

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Calling all contestants! Among the Coney Island 2010 Season’s “first annual” events are the Miss Luna Mermaid Pageant, the Searching for Mr. Cyclone Contest and the Coney Island Talent Show. These brand new competitions join quirky favorites like the Mermaid Parade, Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, the Miss Coney Island Burlesque Beauty Pageant, the Coney Island Beard & Moustache Competition and the Tattoo & Motorcycle Show. Now all we need is for someone to bring back the Most Beautiful Baby Contest!

Miss Luna Mermaid Pageant, Luna Park NYC
Entry Deadline: June 12. Pageant: Wednesday, June 16, rescheduled for Thursday, June 17, 7 pm

Coney Island’s new Luna Park is staging its first-ever Miss Luna Mermaid Pageant on Wednesday June 16th Thursday, June 17th, at 7pm. One queen will be crowned Miss Luna Mermaid and along with four runners up will ride on Luna Park’s float in Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade on June 19. Contestants must be age 21-30 and will be judged in two categories, swimwear and talent. Be demure! “Please refrain from any talents or swimwear that is explicit and/or not appropriate for the viewership of all park guests.” Entry form and pageant rules on Luna Park’s website. Contact: kventre@caiparks.com, 718-373-LUNA (5862)

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The Mermaid Parade, Coney Island USA
Saturday, June 19, 2 pm; Register online or on site on the day of the parade starting at 10 am

Chief Justice pours first bribe of  Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Chief Justice pours first bribe of Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

If you’re a mermaid planning to join the parade, we recommend that you first read the FAQs on CIUSA’s site. Do not underestimate the importance of bribing the judges if you hope to win a prize. As a former Mermaid Parade judge we’ve received beer, vodka, more beer, chocolate cake, beer, lubricants, play money, glow in the dark octopus toy, more beer, more vodka, lemonade, the Book of Mermon, rum balls, and finally more beer. The most unusual bribe that we know of was the wooden boat with no engines and in need of structural repair. It was offered by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra who said show up with a tugboat and it’s yours. Last year’s thread on the CIUSA Message Board about Traditional Bribing of the Judges is required reading. Or you could splurge on a judgeship, sit back and enjoy the parade. Happy Mermaid Day!

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Searching for Mr. Cyclone Contest, Cyclone Roller Coaster
Entry deadline: June 26 July 11. Pageant: Saturday, August 7, 12-3 pm

Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani on Coney Island's beach looking for Mr Cyclone. Photo © Charles Denson

Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani on Coney Island's beach looking for Mr Cyclone. Photo © Charles Denson

According to the contest guidelines, “The Cyclone knows no fear and neither should you in your quest to become the first ever MISTER CYCLONE in the history of the free world!” Contestants will be judged on strength, endurance, Coney Island wits, creativity, talent, style and romance.

To compete for the title of Mr. Cyclone, applicants must fill out an application on the contest webpage by June 26July 11. Contestants will be selected by a team of “Cyclone experts” to have a profile posted on the Cyclone roller coaster’s homepage, where the public will be invited to vote for their favorite and send the top 7 to the live competition in Coney Island on August 7th.

“Mr. Cyclone 2010” will take part in the Cyclone’s 2011 Opening Day Ceremonies, the Mermaid Parade, receive a season pass to the Cyclone Roller Coaster, throw out an opening pitch at a Brooklyn Cyclones game and revel in the glory of being Mr. Cyclone. Contact: misscyclone2010@gmail.com, 718-265-2100

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Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, Nathan’s Famous
Event: Sunday, July 4th, 12 noon, pre-show at 10:30 am

This summer will mark the 95th year of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, It’s too late to register for Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifiers around the country, but on the Fourth of July you can join the crowd watching the contest live in Coney Island instead of on ESPN. Contact: International Federation of Competitive Eating

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Coney Island Talent Show, Thirsty Girl Productions
Entry deadline: July 7 July 16. Talent Show: Saturday, July 31, 4-8 pm

The first-ever Coney Island Talent Show on the Boardwalk has posted an open call for performers in five categories: Best Drag Performance or Celebrity Impersonator; Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks (including all variety, novelty acts); Dance Your Pants Off (including soloists, troupes & step teams); Creative Kids, 9-12 years; Sassy Seniors, 60 and up. According to the contest guidelines: “The sub-category in each level is Best Costume, so be sure and dress with pizazz to this Coney Island affair. Singing is encouraged for all categories!”

1st prize in each category will receive a cash prize of $200,  a season pass to participating Coney Island Amusements and an opportunity to perform live before a Brooklyn Cyclone’s Baseball Game, The 22nd Tattoo & Motorcycle Festival, or The 8th Annual New York Burlesque Festiva.l   2nd prize in each category will receive a cash prize of $50, and day passes to participating Coney Island Amusements.   3rd prize in each category will receive day passes to participating Coney Island Amusements.   The Best Dressed person in each category will receive a special mystery prize. The Best Dressed person in each category will receive a special mystery prize.

Contestants are asked to fill out an application on the website and post a video of their performance on YouTube or Vimeo. Seven contestants in each category will be selected by a panel of top secret Coney Island talent scouts and be asked to compete in the live event on July 31.
Contact: coneyislandtalent@gmail.com, 917-770-8559

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The Miss Coney Island Burlesque Beauty Pageant, Coney Island USA/Burlesque at the Beach, Friday, September 17, 10-11 pm

Miss Coney Island 2007 Ekaterina & Bambi. Photo © Norman Blake via coneyislandusa's flickr

Miss Coney Island 2007 Ekaterina & Bambi. Photo © Norman Blake via coneyislandusa's flickr

Gigi LaFemme is the reigning Miss Coney Island. Her predecessors have included Gal Friday, Serpentina, Ekaterina and Bambi. The Great Fredini, who runs Burlesque at the Beach, responded to our request for info on this year’s pageant: “Bambi carefully curates the Miss Coney Island Pageant herself. We usually have 8-12 competitors and I MC the show with a band. It’s run in a classic beauty pageant format with segments for runway, talent, lineup, etc. As far as this year… I can confirm that Angie Pontani will be competing, so the competition is going to be steep! The thing is you just never know who will take it because the audience in the theater votes to decide who the new Miss Coney Island will be. So it’s really about who the audience loves the most. It’s very Coney Island!” Contact: www.coneyisland.com

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

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