A Brooklyn Blessing for Post-Sandy Coney Island Rides

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Five months after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the amusement park rides at Coney Island, the rides have been blessed as they reopened for the season.

The October storm devastated homes and businesses, and flooded the electrical equipment of Deno’s Wonder Wheel at a cost of approximately $1 million.

Valerio Ferrari, president of the company that operates Luna Park, says the beachfront community has been “to hell and back.”

On the morning of March 24, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz helped open the attractions with the 29th annual blessing of the rides.  The fabled Cyclone Rollercoaster got an “egg cream christening.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz presided over the official opening with the 29th annual “Blessing of the Rides” at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The Cyclone roller coaster also received its traditional “Egg Cream Christening,” bringing together two of Brooklyn’s notable contributions.

Markowitz told the crowd he’s more of a spectator when it comes to the Cyclone.  “I’m not going, no way!” he said following the egg cream christening.

The residential neighborhood also called Coney Island is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Sea Gate to its west, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east, and Gravesend to the north.

Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year. At its height it contained three competing major amusement parks, Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park, as well as many independent amusements.

Astroland served as a major amusement park from 1962 to 2008, and was replaced by a new incarnation of Dreamland in 2009 and of Luna Park in 2010. The other parks and attractions include Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, 12th Street Amusements, and Kiddie Park, while the Eldorado Arcade has an indoor bumper car ride. The Zipper and Spider on 12th Street were closed permanently on September 4, 2007, and dismantling began after its owner lost his lease. They are to be reassembled at an amusement park in Honduras.

On April 20, 2011, the first new roller coasters to be built at Coney Island in eighty years were opened as part of efforts to reverse the decline of the amusement area.

In addition to the reopening of the amusement park, Nathan’s announced that their annual hot dog eating contest will be held this summer as usual.

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