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Posts Tagged ‘Thunderbolt’

Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

The Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge drew 3,000 swimmers and 10,000 spectators, and raised nearly $90K for Camp Sunshine. January 1, 2016. Photo © Norman Blake

Coney Island drew an astounding total of more than 28,000 visitors to its new New Year’s Eve Celebration and long-established New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge. The district’s City Councilman Mark Treyger tweeted the official tally that “Over 15,000 people turned out to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Coney Island!” Temps in the 40s and the promise of free rides, sideshow performances and fireworks helped triple attendance for the New Year’s Eve Party at the Parachute Jump, which was started by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and is in its second year. The free, family friendly celebration was sponsored by the Borough President along with Councilman Treyger and the Alliance for Coney Island.

On New Year’s Day, the Parks Department estimated there were 10,000 spectators at the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge. “We had almost 3,000 swimmers participate in the plunge this year,” Polar Bear Club president Dennis Thomas tells ATZ. “I am sure it is a record. The past few years we have been averaging a little over 2,000 swimmers.” What’s more, the funds raised by the Polar Bears for Camp Sunshine have far exceeded their goal of last year’s total of $70K. Nearly $90K has been received so far, with donations still being accepted here. If the trend continues, next year the Bears could break $100K for the camp, which hosts children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The novelty of major rides –the Wonder Wheel, B&B Carousell and Thunderbolt roller coaster– being open on New Year’s Eve and offering a free spin was a big draw. When we got here around 8:30pm, the atmosphere was festive but the crowd was still sparse, evoking memories of the first years of the Mermaid Parade, before it grew into the world’s largest art parade. Around 11:15, the vast majority of revelers began to arrive and gather around the dazzlingly lit Parachute Jump, Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, for Coney’s countdown to 2016.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel’s white cars rode approximately 2,000 people for free on New Year’s Eve, with the line snaking towards the boardwalk. On New Year’s Day, just over 500 tickets at $5 per ride were sold, with 50% of the proceeds — $1262.50 — donated to the Polar Bears’ charity Camp Sunshine. Over 400 cups of hot chocolate were handed out to guests. Will winter rides become an annual tradition? That depends: Coney’s outdoor rides operate “weather permitting,” and luckily this year’s weather permitted the first-ever New Year’s spin.

As for the Polar Bear Plunge, Thomas says the event has been growing every year. “Part of the increase in funds may be due to increasing number of plungers, but, again, all donations are voluntary and no one has to pay to participate, and some don’t,” he notes. “Participation by teams from Coney Island Brewery, Peggy O’Neill’s and Reyka Vodka helped with the fundraising. Generally, Coney Island is back on the map as a NYC destination like it hasn’t been in decades. People are not fearful about coming anymore, and the summers have been so popular, maybe some of that is rubbing off on the winter plunge there as well.”

Happy New Year to and from Coney Island! Stay tuned for a photo album of some of the best pix of this year’s plunge.

Thunderbolt Luna Park NYC

Crowds line up to ride Luna Park’s Thunderbolt for free on New Year’s Eve. December 31, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

December 29, 2015: Coney Island to Ring in 2016 with Parties, Free Rides, Light Shows, Fireworks, Polar Bear Plunge

December 11, 2015: Dance with Miss Coney Island on New Year’s Day

January 2, 2014: Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge’s Best Dressed of 2014

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

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Coney Islan New Year's Eve

Ringing in the New Year in Coney Island with the Parachute Jump’s dazzling display of 8000 LEDs and fireworks shot off from the beach. January 1, 2015. Photo © Jim McDonnell via Coney Island Fun

For the first time in decades, Coney Island will offer a glittering array of parties on New Year’s Eve and for the first time in the winter, weather permitting, a trio of major rides –The Wonder Wheel, B&B Carousell and Thunderbolt roller coaster–will be awhirl. These additions to Coney’s entertainment calendar coincide with the trailblazing New Year’s Eve celebration started last year by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and now in its second year.

On New Year’s Day, the annual Polar Bear Plunge into the not quite as icy as usual Atlantic-the water temp was only 51 on Christmas Day- is likely to draw more participants than ever, and will be accompanied by the traditional parties at Ruby’s Bar and Peggy O’Neill’s and the first spin of 2016 on Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the Eldorado Bumper Cars.

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Deno’s Wonder Wheel will be open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for the first time in the ride’s 95 year history. Photo © Jim McDonnell

The fun begins this New Year’s Eve at 9:00pm with music and giveaways at Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, the Parachute Jump, located on the boardwalk just west of 16th Street. After performances by Coney Island USA’s Circus Sideshow, you can ring in the New Year watching the Parachute Jump’s dazzling display of 8000 LEDs featuring a digital “ball drop” at midnight and fireworks shot off from the beach. The free, family friendly celebration is sponsored by the Borough President along with Coney Island’s City Councilman Mark Treyger and the Alliance for Coney Island.

Kicking off the countdown to its 100th anniversary in 2020, Deno’s Wonder Wheel will spin for the first-time in its 95-year history on New Year’s, including free rides on New Year’s Eve from 9:00-11:00pm. The antique B&B Carousell, which until about 15 years ago was open year round, and the new Thunderbolt roller coaster will spin on New Year’s Eve for free from 8:00-11:00pm. Abe Stark, an indoor skating rink on the Boardwalk, will offer free ice skating from 7:00-11:00pm. There will be free parking at MCU parking lot.

Thunderbolt Luna Park NYC

Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster and B&B Carousell will be open on New Year’s eve for free rides from 8-11pm. Photo via Luna Park NYC

Among the Coney Island venues holding ticketed events on New Year’s Eve are Eldorado Auto Skooters, Coney Island USA, Coney Island Brewery and Gargiulo’s.

Eldorado Auto Skooters (1216 Surf Avenue) will host Studio 54 DJ Nicky Siano’s Last New Year’s Eve Disco Extravaganza with singers Rochelle Fleming, Melba Moore and D.C. LaRue performing their hits from the disco era of the ’70s. “We will be dancing on the floor, not riding,” says the invite. The Eldorado is home to a one-of-a-kind sound system built by Paradise Garage and Studio 54’s Richard Long. “Our sound is extremely powerful yet very easy to listen to, it doesn’t hurt the ear,” as Eldorado’s Scott Fitlin told ATZ in an interview before he died in 2010. “Our bass is tremendous, and I play dance music, the sound that has energy and life, and POSITIVITY!” (10:00pm – 6:00am; $75 in advance, $150 at the door, includes drinks and food. The arcade’s Skeeballs, Basketballs, and a couple of video games and cranes will be available to play.)

Nicky Siano

Banner for DJ Nicky Siano’s Last New Year’s Eve Disco Extravaganza at Eldorado. Photo via Nicky Siano

Popular arts organization and Mermaid Parade producer Coney Island USA (1208 Surf Avenue) is having its first-ever “How Cool Is This New Year’s Party.” Entertainment includes “New Year’s Eve in Heaven,” a performance art collaboration featuring Dick Zigun as Father Time vs Eckszooberante as Baby New Year; a rock and roll themed laser show; a hike to the Parachute Jump to see the ball drop; and the first performance of 2016 by the Coney Island Circus Sideshow at 1:00am (Doors open at 8:00 with half-price beer and wine till midnight for all ticket holders, at the Freak Bar. $40 in advance, $50 at the door)

The Coney Island Brewery (1904 Surf Avenue) is throwing a Coney Brew Year’s Party at their new brewery, with unlimited craft beer from eight taps and food catered by Gargiulo’s. The outdoor beer garden will be heated so guests can step outside to see the Parachute Jump’s light show and the fireworks. (9:00pm – 12:00am, brewery open till 2:00am. Tickets are $77.87 via eventbrite.)

Coney Island USA Ray Valenz

Coney Island USA Fire Breather Ray Valenz performing at last year’s New Year’s Eve Celebration in Coney Island. Photo © Norman Blake

Having served classic Neapolitan cuisine since 1907, Gargiulo’s Restaurant (2911 West 15th Street) is a veteran when it comes to New Year’s Eve parties that are elegant and old school. “Champagne all Night” is at the top of the menu, followed by Cocktail Extravaganza, dining and dancing to live music, party hats and noisemakers, and “Gargiulo’s Special Venetian Hour.” (7:30pm – 2:00am, $200 per person, tax, gratuity and valet parking included.)

A number of local bars and eateries will be open for New Year’s Eve with their regular menus and offering extended hours. Tom’s Coney Island, the Boardwalk outpost of the Prospect Park eatery, which has a full bar, will be serving till at least 12:30am. The original Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue will be open till 1:00am, as will Wahlburger’s, the celebrity eatery across the street. Surf Avenue restaurants with bars keeping later hours–till at least 1:00am include Peggy O’Neill’s (1904 Surf Avenue), Footprints (1521 Surf Avenue) and Applebee’s (1217 Surf Avenue), which is offering a free champagne toast at midnight. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria (1215 Surf Avenue) is open for a prix fixe dinner of pizza, appetizer, drinks and a glass of champagne for $30 per person. All will be open again for New Year’s Day.

Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge

Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge, January 1, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

if you plan to join the annual January 1st Polar Bear Plunge, it is at 1:00pm sharp, with on-site registration from 10:00am, the same hour when Ruby’s Bar opens for libations on New Year’s Day. Did you know the Bears’ hugely popular swim is also a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer vacation? You can save time with online registration and make a suggested $20 pledge for this year’s Plunge or help teams like The Ice Warriors, Never Too Cold for the Bold, and the Empire Strikes Coney meet their fundraising goals. Last year, the club raised over $70,000 for the camp and hopes to exceed that amount this year.

On January 1st, the New York Aquarium is offering free admission to all registered Polar Bear Plungers with a wristband (10:00am-4:30pm). It will cost $5 to ride the Wonder Wheel, which will be open from 11am to 2pm, and is donating 50% of the proceeds to the Polar Bear Club’s fundraiser for Camp Sunshine. The Coney Island History Project will have interviewers at the Wheel recording New Year’s messages for their Oral History Project.

On West 12th Street, “Miss Coney Island,” the legendary dancing doll whose twin mottoes are “25¢ to Fall in Love” and “Don’t Postpone Joy,” will be open on New Year’s Day, along with the animated amusement park “Coney Island Always” (25 cents). Also on New Year’s Day, the Eldorado Auto Skooter will be open for the first ride of 2016 ($7.00 per ride) and the Coney Island Circus Sideshow will be performing from 2:00pm-6:00pm ($10 for adults, $5 for kids).

A look at last year’s Parachute Jump light show and fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Coney Island via a video by dutchmazz…

Related posts on ATZ…

January 5, 2016: Coney Island New Year’s by the Numbers: 28K Visitors, Nearly $90K Raised for Charity

December 25, 2015: Holiday Videos of Parks & Attractions Around the World

December 11, 2015: Dance with Miss Coney Island on New Year’s Day

November 2, 2015: Coney Island Polar Bears Get Shout-Out from Mayor in Winter Tourism Campaign

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Coney Island Parachute Jump French Tricolor

Coney Island Parachute Jump –Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower– Lit at Sunset in French Tricolor. November 15, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Sunday we happened to be on the Boardwalk in Coney Island at the very moment the lights on the Parachute Jump were switched on. Known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, the Jump is being lit in France’s tricolor to show solidarity after the Paris attacks.

Although Coney’s rides are now closed for the season, the Parachute Jump’s 8000 LEDs are lit year round with lighting schemes varying by the day. occasion and season. One of our favorite shots of the Jump is through the loop of Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is on West 15th Street off the Boardwalk.

Coney Island Parachute Jump and Thunderbolt at Sunset. November 15, 2015 .  Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island Parachute Jump and Thunderbolt at Sunset. November 15, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

December 22, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Tribute in Light to Slain NYPD Officers

November 29, 2014: Photo of the Day: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Holidays

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

November 20, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Past and Present, 1993, watercolor on paper, 14 13/16 x 10 inches, Collection of The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA

For this long-time admirer, seeing one of David Levine’s sublime and instantly recognizable watercolors of Coney Island on the cover of Gallery Guide was a joyful moment, knowing it heralded more. From December 12 through January 17, Forum Gallery presents “David Levine: The World He Saw,” the first major exhibition of paintings and drawings by Levine since his passing in 2009. Fifty works are on view including more than 25 of his watercolors of Coney Island, many loaned by private collectors and museums.

Renowned as a caricaturist whose insightful drawings were on the cover of The New York Review of Books for more than 40 years, Brooklyn-born Levine spent his summers painting the bathers on Coney Island beach and the architecture on the boardwalk and adjacent streets. Many of the structures that he painted–pavilions, booths, bathhouses, and amusement rides, have since vanished or were demolished.

David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Stauch’s Baths, 1981, watercolor on paper, 10 7/8 x 14 5/8 inches, Private collection, San Francisco, CA

While photographs of Coney’s past attractions tend to put a “then and now” distance between the viewer and the subject, the immediacy of watercolor and Levine’s mastery of the medium makes us see what he saw. Then is now. The ache in the heart upon viewing his watercolors of Stauch’s Baths, the Bank of Coney Island building and the original Thunderbolt roller coaster is akin to phantom pain for a limb that has been lost.

There are also paintings of rides that are thankfully still with us– the Polar Express, the B&B Carousell–and of elderly women whom Levine affectionately referred to as the “Shmata Queens of Coney.”

David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Carousel, 1989, watercolor on paper, 11 3/8 x 14 1/4 inches

“Each year they would say: ‘Ya know, lest veek, dere vuss a men chust like you.’ I would patiently tell them that it was me,” Levine wrote. “The ‘shmata,’ or ‘rag,’ not only refers to the head cloth, but also to the bathing suits – faded and misshapen by molding to aged and deformed bodies that have been out under the sun. They are now comfortable with me sketching in their midst and only occasionally ask to see what I do.”

Walter Bernard, a fellow member of the Painting Group, which Levine co-founded with Aaron Shikler in 1958, wrote this remembrance in the New York Times in 2010: “Watching David work was a revelation. He handled watercolors unlike anybody else. He liked to experiment and, as he put it, ‘play.’ He would draw, redraw, ‘schmeer,’ sponge out and paint again. It was not uncommon to see him rub out a work we’d been marveling over, saying, simply, ‘I didn’t get what I was going after.'”

David Levine, Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, End of Youth, 1984 watercolor on paper 14 x 22 1/2 inches, Private collection, New York, NY

Levine often painted the 1925 Thunderbolt, which was SBNO (Standing But Not Operating, in roller coaster parlance) since the early 1980’s. The titles of the works are telling: End of Youth, End of Joy, Goya at Coney, and after it was demolished in 2000, The Past.

One of the stories Levine told about the people he met while painting in Coney is this poignant anecdote about End of Joy: “I was seated on a side street, painting the Tinturn Abbey of joy rides, the Thunderbolt. Black and looming, it stood abandoned. A group of children surrounded me. They had just left the beach. Their chattering stopped as they watched my performance. Then, silently, they moved off as a group. When they had walked a short distance, the smallest, a little girl, turned and ran back to me. Without a word, she placed a quarter on my watercolor, then returned to her friends.”

A 72-page, fully illustrated catalogue, with foreword by author and journalist Pete Hamill, accompanies the exhibition.

David Levine: The World He Saw. December 12, 2014 to January 17, 2015. Forum Gallery, 730 Fifth Avenue 2nd Fl. (between 56th & 57th Streets), New York, NY 10019. 212-355-4545. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 5:30pm

David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Untitled (Three Women, Two Umbrellas on beach), 1982, watercolor on paper, 4 1/4 x 13 3/4 inches

Related posts on ATZ…

October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

May 22, 2013: Art of the Day: Girl to Gorilla Showfront by Lew Stamm

August 21, 2012: Art of the Day: Out of Disorder (Coney Island) by Takahiro Iwasaki

September 17, 2011: Photography: Floating Above the Coney Island Boardwalk

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Thunderbolt Luna Park

Grand Opening of Thunderbolt Roller Coaster, Luna Park Coney Island, June 14, 2014. Photo via Luna Park NYC

Summer officially begins on Saturday, June 21st, with the solstice and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. This past Saturday offered a taste of summer: the long-awaited debut of Luna Park’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, Wonder Wheel Park’s Pet Costume Contest on the Boardwalk, and the Brooklyn Cyclones season opener followed by the first fireworks of the season. The Cyclones stadium is spectacularly situated with the landmark Parachute Jump on one side and the new Thunderbolt on the other.

Brooklyn Ccyclones

Brooklyn Cyclones Season Opener at MCU Park, Coney Island. June 14, 2014. Photo via Brooklyn Cyclones Facebook

ATZ wrote about the Thunderbolt when it broke ground (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” March 10, 2014) and as it took shape (“New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island,” May 19, 2014). Yet it’s still an astonishment to come upon its steel loops and dips from Surf Avenue. The coaster has the allure of an abstract sculpture and occupies part of a long vacant block where the Drop the Dip, Thunderbolt, and Wild Mouse coasters once thrilled and the Magic Carpet Fun House and Donkey Ball Game amused the millions.  (more…)

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Last evening at 6:55pm, Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster went for its first test run, evoking cheers from fans gathered on the Boardwalk. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy had been standing by for the historic moment and captured “The Thunderbolt’s Maiden Voyage” in this short video.

As previously noted (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” ATZ, March 10, 2014), Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for Coney — the Cyclone in 1927. Luna Park’s newest ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt and is expected to open as soon as the test runs and permitting process are complete.

UPDATE June 2, 2014

To anyone who watched this video of the Thunderbolt’s first test run and jumped to the conclusion it would open over the weekend, hang in there! There’ll be multiple test runs, some of which were conducted today, before the new coaster opens. On Saturday, Luna Park employees variously said the coaster would open next Saturday or in two weeks, but there’s been no officially announced date.

Related posts on ATZ…

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

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Thunderbolt Roller Coaster

Parachute Jump framed by the Thunderbolt’s Vertical Loop, Luna Park, Coney Island. May 17, 2014. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Weekend visitors to Coney Island were wowed by the sight of Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster under construction on West 15th Street. Set to open on Memorial Day, which is just one week away, the new $10 million dollar ride’s track rolls, loops, turns and dives from the Boardwalk to Surf Avenue and back again. Photographer Jim McDonnell, who has been documenting the work in progress since Day 1, has captured the sculptural elegance of the coaster. The Thunderbolt has already made its mark on Coney Island’s skyline. Seen from a certain vantage point, the landmark Parachute Jump–Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower– is framed by the Loop in a shot that is destined to become a favorite of People’s Playground photographers and a Coney classic.

Thunderbolt Loop Completed

Loop on Luna Park’s new Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Completed, May 15, 2014. Photo © Jim McDonnell

On Thursday, the Thunderbolt’s 100-foot Loop was completed. It was a stunning moment because it’s the first coaster with a vertical loop in Coney Island since the 1901-1910 Loop the Loop, which stood on the corner of West 10th Street where the Cyclone is today. Edwin Prescott’s ride was one of the first to charge admission just to watch. A sign warned “Beware of Pickpockets!” and another said “STRAP YOURSELVES.” The ride’s motto, printed on its tickets, was “Heels up, Heads down!” But the Loop the Loop’s low capacity of four passengers per 10 cent ride was not enough to turn a profit. The Thunderbolt will cost $10 or 10 Luna Park credits to ride. If you’re not brave enough to give it a go, it will of course be free to watch.

Loop the Loop

Edwin Prescott’s Loop the Loop, Coney Island, 1901-1901. Library of Congress

As previously noted (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” ATZ, March 10, 2014), Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for Coney — the Cyclone in 1927. The new ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt, which occupied an adjacent lot on the same block until it was controversially and illegally demolished in 2000 on the orders of Mayor Giuliani.

The Thunderbolt is the third Zamperla coaster in Luna Park to be named after Coney Island attractions of the past. In 2010, their Wild Mouse-style spinning coaster was rechristened “The Tickler” in honor of an innovative 1906 thrill ride in the original Luna Park, after which the park is named. The next year, a Pony Express-themed Motocoaster in Scream Zone was dubbed the Steeplechase Coaster, after Steeplechase Park’s signature horse race ride.

Loop the Loop Ticket

Loop the Loop Ticket, Coney Island, early 1900s. Via eBay seller childhoodthings

UPDATE May 20, 2014

UPDATE May 30, 2014

Watch this video from last evening, when the Thunderbolt went for its 1st first test run.

UPDATE June 15, 2014

The Thunderbolt had its grand opening on Saturday! Here’s the official POV video released by Luna Park

Related posts on ATZ…

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

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