Coney to open for 96th season

Brooklyn Currents | 3/16/2016 | 0 comments

This Sunday, March 20 is the official opening day for iconic Coney Island's rides and attractions.

Festivities start at 11 a.m. on the Boardwalk with the annual tradition of the Blessing of the Rides at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park.

This year's ceremony is dedicated to Pastor Debbe Santiago of Coney Island's Salt and Sea Mission, who originated the event with Denos D. Vourderis 31 years ago and passed away last month.

Deno's Wonder Wheel marks its 96th season with a free ride for the first 96 riders. At the Cyclone, where the first 100 on line ride for free, the annual Egg Cream Christening of the roller coaster's front car is at 11:30 a.m. The 1920 Wonder Wheel and the 1927 Cyclone are official New York City landmarks.

All are invited to visit the Coney Island History Project's exhibition center from 1 to 6 p.m. at the event.View historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island's colorful past. Admission is free.

The first special exhibit of the 2016 season, opening on Memorial Day Weekend, will be "The 50th Anniversary of Fred Trump's Demolition of the Steeplechase Pavilion" (quite timely since his son is running for president!)  A half century ago Fred Trump, also a real estate developer,  demolished one of Coney's most beautiful and imposing structures. The exhibit examines in photos, ephemera, and oral history, the importance of the pavilion and the memories of local personalities who dealt with Fred Trump before and after the  demolition of the landmark. During the last decade History Project director Charles Denson interviewed many of the players involved in the loss of Steeplechase, and the exhibit reveals many little-known facts.

Also on March 20 at the Coney Island History Project, visitors may take free souvenir photos with an original Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name, and "Skully," a figure from Coney Island's classic Spookhouse and Spook-A-Rama  rides. Among the treasures on display  this season is Coney Island's oldest surviving artifact, the 1823 wooden Toll House sign dating back to the days when the toll for a horse and rider to "the Island" was 5 cents. The current special exhibit on view is "Coney Island Stereoviews: Seeing Double at the Seashore, 1860-1920." 

Located on West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, just a few steps off the Boardwalk, the Coney Island History Project is open free of charge on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 1 to 7 p.m., and open year 'round for private group visits and Coney opens  this Sunday for 96th season weekend walking tours


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