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Coney Island Always, West 12th Street near the Boardwalk, Coney Island. August 31, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Park founder George C. Tilyou famously said “If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.” Over the past few weeks, we’ve fielded queries from around the world: When does Coney Island close? What’s open in September, October, etcetera?

Nowadays, Coney Island’s season for amusement rides, games and attractions extends from Palm Sunday till the last weekend in October. The New York Aquarium, Nathan’s Famous, and a few other restaurants and shops in the amusement district remain open through the fall and winter. Back in 2010, ATZ wrote a guide to off-season Coney titled “Coney Island After Columbus Day: We’re Still Open!” Here’s an updated version for this year.

Nathan's

Open Year-Round: The Original Nathan’s Famous at Night, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Rides and Attractions

After Labor Day, the majority of Coney’s rides are open weekends and school holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Columbus Day) through the end of October –this year (2013) the last day is Sunday, October 27. [In 2015, it is Sunday, November 1st.] Weather permitting, of course. Schedules may vary at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park, the Cyclone and Scream Zone, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado Bumper Cars. The Eldorado is an independently-owned, indoor attraction and stays open after the other rides close. We recommend checking the parks’ websites and the official Coney Island twitterers list for up-to-date info and phoning ahead if the weather is iffy.

Hours are generally 12 noon until 6-8pm, and sometimes until 10 or 11 pm on September weekends, but vary depending on the weather and the crowds. Closing is much earlier than in the summer season, when the parks may be open till 1am. The traditional opening day of the season is Palm Sunday, a holiday with a date that changes every year. In 2014, the parks will officially open on April 13th. (In 2015 and 2016, Palm Sunday is early– March 29 and March 20, respectively.) Coney Island’s amusement rides operate on a daily schedule from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Check the websites of the parks and attractions for seasonal hours or phone ahead.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island USA features an array of events during September and October including the 29th Annual Coney Island Tattoo and Motorcycle Festival (September 13-15) and the Coney Island Film Festival (September 20-22). Check the calendar of events for October’s Creep Show at the Freak Show and Haunted Sideshow and other special events during the year. Fred Kahl’s Scan-O-Rama, a 3D portrait studio, will be open most Saturdays, from 12-5pm. Update: CIUSA’s Freak Bar and Gift Shop and Coney Island Museum will be open most Saturdays and Sundays 12pm-5pm during the winter.

The New York Aquarium‘s Fall/Winter/Spring hours are 10am–4:30pm, with last entry at 3:30pm. Exhibits include Conservation Hall and Sea Cliffs, where you can see penguins, walruses and sea otters being fed. While the aquarium is still recovering and rebuilding from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, admission fees are reduced to $9.95. On Fridays from 3pm, admission is pay-what you-wish.

New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge

He Did It! Annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge in Coney Island. January 1, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita

Beach and Boardwalk

While the beach officially closes for swimming after Labor Day, sunbathing, strolling, bird-watching, kite-flying, photography and other fun pursuits are allowed. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club swims at 1pm every Sunday from November through April. Watch from the beach or join them for a guest swim. Just show up at the Bears “Clubhouse” at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing. There’s also the famous New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, which all are welcome to join and earn the bragging rights “Did it!” (Update: On occasion, when the Aquarium’s Education Hall is leased out, the Bears swim at Stillwell Avenue.)

The historic 90-year-old Riegelmann Boardwalk is open year round and if you traverse its 2.7 miles from Sea Gate to Brighton, you’ll meet walkers, runners, bicyclists, parents with strollers, neighborhood folks out and about, as well as tourists from around the world. The Coney Island History Project offers 1-1/2 hour walking tours of the amusement district -“past, present and future”–including stops at the landmark Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump and lesser known treasures. Tours are offered year-round, weather permitting.

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk: Lola Star Boutique, Ruby’s Bar, Brooklyn Beach Shop, Scream Zone, Tom’s Coney Island, Parachute Jump. Photo © Tricia Vita

DINING AND SHOPPING

Paul’s Daughter, established as Gregory and Paul’s in 1962, is open daily through the end of October. Paul Georgoulakos, 84, the Boardwalk’s oldest operator, can frequently be found at the clam bar of his family’s eatery, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Located at West 10th Street near the Aquarium, the store offers counter service, a clam bar, and an al fresco bar with beer on tap. We recommend the raw clams, fried calamari, and french fries.

Some of the small businesses are making a valiant effort to stretch the season. Lola Star Boutique owner Dianna Carlin says she intends to keep her gift shop open, weather permitting, every day for as long as she can. “I’m really gearing up for holiday shopping and getting tons of fabulous new merch, so hopefully we’ll be open daily at least through Christmas!”

Lola Star Boutique

Lola Star Boutique owner Dianna Carlin with one of her T-Shirt Designs. Photo © Tricia Vita

Ruby’s Bar and Grill is open daily through Halloween, co-owner Michael Sarrel tells ATZ. It’ll be weekends only–most weekends anyway–from November 1st through January 1st, which is a big day on the Boardwalk due to the Polar Bear Plunge. After New Year’s Day, Ruby’s will close till mid-March. Drop by Ruby’s Facebook page anytime to check seasonal hours and whether or not they’re open when you plan to go.

Brooklyn Beach Shop, which offers private label T-shirts, hoodies, blankets and beach gear, is open daily through the end of October. Weekend hours are planned for the rest of the year, depending on the weather and the crowds.

At Tom’s Coney Island, breakfast including their delicious pancakes, is served all day. The restaurant has become a local favorite for brunch and lunch since Superstorm Sandy, when it was one of the few places able to open after the storm. A variety of omelettes, sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers and vegie burgers are also on the menu. “We will be staying open through the winter from 8-5, seven days a week,” owner Jimmy Kokotas tells ATZ. “We are currently open 8-7 till daylight savings begins.” The Boardwalk outpost of the popular Prospect Heights diner celebrates its first anniversary later this month.

Wrap at Tom's Restaurant

Grilled Chicken with Greek Salad: Our Fave Wrap at Tom’s, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita

Founded in 1916, Nathan’s Famous original location on Surf Avenue at Stillwell is a year-round tourist destination. People say their world-famous hot dogs taste better here than at any of the locations of the franchise. Throughout the year, the Surf Avenue store is open daily 8am till 1am, and until 2am on Friday and Saturday. The Nathan’s at the corner of West 12th on the Boardwalk is open seasonally.

Williams Candy is one of our favorite places in Coney Island. The 75-year-old Mom-and-Pop shop is next door to Nathan’s Famous and is open year round. Hours are 9 am till 7 pm during the off season. The shop stays open late when Coney is in full swing. Williams also has a delicious looking website where you can order marshmallow sticks, candy apples and other treats online.

Williams Candy

Williams Candy, next to Nathan’s dining area on Surf Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Stillwell Avenue directly behind Nathan’s is Coney Island Beach Shop, which has been selling T-shirts and beach gear at this location in Coney Island since 2002. Year-round hours are 10:30am-4pm.

Across the street from Nathan’s, in Thor Equities new retail building, the pop-up shop Wampum packed it in after Labor Day, but the rest of the stores are open daily through October 30, according to store personnel. With the exception of candy mega chain It’Sugar, which will be open year round, the rest of the stores will close for the winter. The Brooklyn Nets Shop, Brooklyn Rock, Maritza’s Souvenirs and Rainbow Shop (discount clothing) have seasonal leases through October and most hope to return next season, sources told ATZ. UPDATE: Brooklyn Rock, Maritza’s and Rainbow shop were replaced by Surf & Stillwell and a souvenir shop, also seasonal, and the NY metro area’s first Wahlburger’s, which will be open year round.

If you prefer Italian food, there are a trio of Coney Island restaurants open year round. The Surf Avenue outpost of DUMBO’s Grimaldi’s Pizzeria currently offers a slice of Coney Island history along with their pizza pies. The “Dreamland Bell” that survived the Dreamland Fire of 1911 is on display as a symbol of Coney’s comeback from Sandy. It can be seen through the storefront window by pedestrians walking on the north side of Surf. The Bell is there through September 27th. A short walk from the amusement district are two of the neighborhood’s longtime favorites– Totonno’s Pizzeria on Neptune Avenue since 1924 and Gargiulo’s, in business since 1907 on West 15th Street.

Coney Island Beach Shop

Warriors T-Shirts at Coney Island Beach Shop behind Nathan’s on Stillwell Avenue. Photo © Tricia Vita

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April 12, 2014: April 13: Freebies Abound on Coney Island’s Opening Day

April 5, 2013: Photo of the Day: Beach Chairs at Brooklyn Beach Shop

January 1, 2013: Videos of the Day: Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge 2013

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

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Sunset over Coney Carnival

Sunset over Coney Carnival, Luna Park. October 12, 2012. Photo © Luna Park Coney Island via flickr

October sunsets in Coney Island have been intense, a last burst of light and color before the Boardwalk amusement parks shutter for the season. This weekend is your last chance to go for a spin on Coney’s rides until next year’s Palm Sunday opener on March 24, 2013! On Saturday and Sunday, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone open at 12 noon. For kids, there’s Saturday’s Halloween Parade, the New York Aquarium’s Ascarium, Spook-A-Rama at Deno’s and Game World’s Haunted Arcade.

Coney’s Halloween haunts start at 6pm with Nights of Horror featuring two mazes and unlimited rides at Luna Park (October 26 thru 28 27). Dick Zigun’s play “Dirty Work at the Wax Works” runs hourly at CreepShow at the Freak Show (October 25 thru 31 27, October 31 TBD). Beginning at 9pm on Friday night, it’ll be “Bump Bump Bump Your Ass Off” for the last time in 2012 and possibly forever– though we hope not– at Coney Island’s Eldorado Disco Palace of Bumper Cars. The last ride weekend party continues on Saturday night and into Sunday morning with go go dancers, a Skeeball Contest, unlimited Bumper car rides and a raffle of Eldorado tricks and treats.

Eldorado Auto Skooter

Eldorado Auto Skooter, Coney Island. September 3, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Does this mean Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk close after Halloween? Not at all. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club goes for their first Sunday swim of the season beginning in November. The high point of the Polar Bear season is the New Year’s Day Plunge, which attracted a record 3,000 swimmers this year and an even bigger crowd of onlookers.

Owners of a few of the new and the newly renovated Boardwalk businesses including Tom’s Coney Island, Ruby’s Bar, Brooklyn Beach Shop and Lola Star Boutique tell ATZ they hope to stay open year-round. “Already our shelves are filling up with tons of new holiday gift items and there’s lots more on the way. We are in it for the long haul,” says Lola Star’s Dianna Carlin. “We are installing a glass storefront and we’ll be open, weather permitting, all winter long!” Michael and Melody Sarrel of Ruby’s Bar have also ordered a glass front – it’s removable in the summertime — to keep out the wintry wind while preserving the famous view of the boardwalk.

Ruby's Bar

October View from Ruby’s Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 13, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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September 23, 2012: Photo Album: First Brunch at Tom’s Coney Island by Bruce Handy

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

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

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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Boardwalk Acrobat. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Boardwalk Acrobat. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

UPDATE: This is a post from October 2010! Please see report from September 13, 2013: “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round” here.

Labor Day weekend was the official close of the beach season, but we’re thrilled to inform you Coney Island is open year round. You can walk on your hands or feet along the Boardwalk from Seagate to Brighton. You can dance, run, bicycle, people-watch and snap photos any old time of the year. Don’t miss Coney Island’s much-photographed New York City landmarks. The Parachute Jump (aka Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower), the Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone and the terra cotta palace on the Boardwalk at 21st Street that was Childs Restaurant are always ready for their close-ups.

If you’re visiting from afar and wonder if Coney Island is worth the trip during the “off season,” here’s our short list of things to do…

Spookarama, Classic Dark Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel PArk, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Spookarama, Classic Dark Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Rides & Attractions: Coney Island is not a single operator park like Six Flags; it’s an historic Brooklyn neighborhood with 59 individually-operated rides and diverse attractions. The 83-year-old Cyclone and 90-year-old Wonder Wheel recently closed for yearly maintenance, but the majority of Coney’s rides are expected to remain open weekends through mid to late October 2010. Weather permitting, of course. Schedules vary at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, 12th Street Amusements and Eldorado Bumper Cars. We recommend checking the Coney Island Fun Guide attraction listing or phoning ahead if the weather is iffy.

If you’re visiting in November, December etc., keep in mind New York City is not located in the same latitude as Orlando, Florida–Coney Island’s rides are not open year round. The traditional opening day of the season is Palm Sunday, which will be April 17, 2011.

Coney Island USA’s Creep Show at the Freak Show and Luna Park’s Nights of Horror featuring a haunted maze and 12 amusement rides will be open evenings from October 15 through Halloween 2010.

Banner for Luna Park Presents Nights of Horror...Here to Haunt You, October 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Banner for Luna Park Presents Nights of Horror...Here to Haunt You, October 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

On the Boardwalk, Cha Cha’s is open through Halloween and Ruby’s will have their annual grill out party on October 23rd and closing party on Oct 31. On Friday, Oct 15th at 7 pm, Robert “Bluesman” Ross and Blues Manian will kick off Cha Cha’s weekend tribute to J.T., the club’s late manager. The Rockinghams play at 5 pm and Bluesball at 8 pm on Saturday, October 16th and an all-day Jam session on Sunday will start at 2:30. Visit Cha Cha’s website for details.

Most of the Boardwalk businesses– Paul’s Daughter, Gyro Corner, Lola Star Boutique, Shoot the Freak and the Grill House, among others–remain open through Halloween. If you have a sentimental favorite, be sure to pay a visit. Some of the Boardwalk businesses won’t be returning in 2011, but we won’t know who’s in and who’s out until new landlord Zamperla makes the announcement on October 31.

On any day of the week, you can visit the New York Aquarium’s Alien Stingers exhibit and have lunch at Nathan’s Famous or another neighborhood eatery. ATZ recommends Gargiulo’s, Totonno’s, Footprints and Coney Island Soup Shop, all of which are open year round.

The Coney Island History Project’s free audio/video walking tour of the amusement area makes Coney Island’s past and present accessible to visitors 365 days a year. Before you leave home, download it to your iPod or listen to it live on your iPhone.

Robert Wilson Mural Detail in Stillwell Terminal, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Robert Wilson Mural Detail in Stillwell Terminal, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Snap pix of the Robert Wilson murals in Stillwell Station, the Os Gemeos mural just outside the statio and the Dreamland Artists Club signage on Bowery and Jones Walk. At the Coney Island Library, a five-minute walk from Stillwell Terminal, artist Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities is on permanent exhibition.

Marie Roberts’ sideshow banners adorn Coney Island USA’s Building on Surf Ave and 12th Street. The Coney Island Museum is open weekends year round. Admission is 99 cents.

Williams Candy in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Williams Candy in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Surf Ave next to Nathan’s outdoor dining area, you’ll find Williams Candy. The tiny shop is filled with scrumptious candy treats and is open year round. Hours are 9 am till 7 pm during the off season. Williams also has a delicious looking website where you can order marshmallow sticks and other candy treats online.

The Coney Island Beach Shop on Stillwell behind Nathan’s, offers a large selection of Coney-themed hoodies, T- shirts, blankets and other souvenirs. Open 7 days a week, 10:30 am till around 6 pm during the off season.

Psychedelic hoodie at Coney Island Beach Shop. Open year round! Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Psychedelic hoodie at Coney Island Beach Shop. Open year round! Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 17, 2010: On Coney Island Boardwalk, Ruby’s & Cha Cha’s Rock This Fall

August 18 2010: Luna Park NYC Halloween Gig for Famed Haunted House Creator

November 7, 2009: Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities

October 30 2009: Nov 1: Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s First Swim of the Season!

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Brooklyn Borough Prez Marty Markowitz and Borough Historian Ron Schweiger on the Cyclone’s Opening Day of the Season. After Labor Day, the Cyclone is open weekends through Sept 20. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Brooklyn Borough Prez Marty Markowitz, Borough Historian Ron Schweiger and Erik Knapp’s Tattoo on the Cyclone’s Opening Day of the Season. After Labor Day, the Cyclone is open weekends through Sept 20. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

UPDATE: This is a post from September 2009! Please see report from September 13, 2013: “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round” here.

After Labor Day, Coney Island’s beach “officially” closed for the summer, the Ringling Circus left for Europe and Thor Equities’ on-again, off-again “Dreamland Amusement Park” with its dozen rides became an empty lot again. Contrary to popular perception, the rest of Coney Island remains open. The amusement area still has over 40 operating rides including the City-owned Cyclone roller coaster, open weekends through September 20, McCullough’s Kiddie Park (12 rides), open weekends through September, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (22 rides) and Eldorado Bumper Cars open weekends through October. Weather permitting of course. Call ahead for hours.

Eldorado Auto Skooter. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Eldorado Auto Skooter. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

What’s more, Coney’s quirky performers and cultural entrepreneurs have dreamed up some unique events to lure you to our sandy shore. This weekend’s calendar includes the 1st annual Coney Island Performance Festival, the 2nd annual Beard and Moustache Competition, and a Pat Benatar Tribute at the Dreamland Roller Rink. Check the Coney Island Fun Guide for details of upcoming events such as the Coney Island Tattoo & Motorcycle Show (Sept 20), Shakespeare’s The Tempest on the Beach (Sept 26-27) and the Coney Island Film Festival (Oct 2-4). True to the spirit of the People’s Playground, the events are free or reasonably priced, so come out to “the Island” and have some post-beach season fun!

SATURDAY & SUNDAY, SEPT 12-13
Meet me by the Jellyfish Tank in the Aquarium for Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival.
Poet and festival organizer Amanda Deutch has lined up a talented array of Brooklyn-based writers and performers for the first annual event. Africasso, Patricia Spears Jones, John Ventimiglia from The Sopranos reading Henry Miller, Eileen Myles (“the rock star of modern poetry”), former Brooklyn Poet Laureate Dennis Nurkse and Coney historian Charles Denson are among the scheduled readers. The free event begins at 6:30 pm. Prior to the performance, visitors can stop by the Coney Island History Project under the Cyclone from 2-6 pm to pick up a festival program, have a free cup of Stumptown coffee, view photos of Astroland circa 1964, and ring the century-old Dreamland Pier Bell.
Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival, New York Aquarium, 6:30 pm, FREE. Surf Ave @ West 8th Street, (718) 265-FISH.
Coney Island History Project, 2 – 6 pm, FREE. 824 Surf Ave under the Cyclone, (718) 266-0012

Halston & Donny Vomit. Photo © ci_moustache via flickr

Halston & Donny Vomit. Photo © ci_moustache via flickr

SATURDAY, SEPT 12
The hairiest event of the season at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow is undoubtedly the Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition. Hosted by the sideshow’s moustachioed m.c. and performer extraordinaire Donny Vomit, the Variety and Awards show features Albert Cadabra the Great Deceiver and special guest performer Jennifer Miller the Bearded Lady. Prizes will be awarded for best natural and best styled beard or moustache, best in show, worst in show and best female fake beard or stache. The Coney Island Circus Sideshow remains open weekends through the end of September. Special events are scheduled in October.
The Second Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition, Sideshows By The Seashore Theater, 6 – 9 pm, $10. 12th Street @ Surf Ave, 718 372 5159

FRIDAY-SUNDAY, Sept 11-13
Shadows of the Night! Pat Benatar Roller Skating Tribute Party at Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink. $12 admission/$10 with “80s Rock n’ roll glam attire.” Skate rentals available for $5, Free skate rentals before 8:30 pm. The Dreamland Roller Rink in the terracotta palace known as the Childs Building on the Boardwalk will be open weekends through the end of September.
–Every Friday Night: Funk-Gospel-Soul Skate Party, 7 -11 pm, $10
–Weekly Family Skate on Saturdays, 2 – 6 pm, $10
–Every Sunday: Retro Disco Skate at Dreamland Roller Rink, 3- 7 pm, $10
Dreamland Roller Rink, 3053 W 21st St on the Boardwalk, 800-362-5116

Dreamland Roller Rink

Lola Staars Dreamland Roller Rink. Photo © Bruce Handy (Pablo57) via flickr

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s open year round…..Nathan’s, New York Aquarium, the Coney Island Museum (Sat-Sun), Williams Candy, Coney Island Beach Shop. Visitors may tour the area 365 days a year with the Coney Island History Project’s free audio/video tour of “The Amusement Area: Past and Present.” The tour is downloadable to iPods and other portable players and may be listened to live via iPhone. The free download and a map are available on the History Project’s website.

Cotton candy is a summer treat, but the NY Aquarium is open year round.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Cotton candy is a summer treat, but the NY Aquarium is open year round. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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