On Friday, May 24, not even the gloomy weather could suppress the glow as Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially kicked off the 2013 beach season in Coney Island right before Memorial Day Weekend. Despite Superstorm Sandy, Luna Park, The Cyclone, Nathan’s and the world famous Coney Island seashore are all back in business, in addition to some new surprises for boardwalk pedestrians.
“Today marks the revival of the Coney Island amusement district that suffered during Hurricane Sandy,” said Bloomberg. “Coney Island isn’t just back – it’s better than ever, with the re-opening of beach and boardwalk, the return of the Aquarium, and the unveiling of the completely renovated, beautiful designed B&B Carousell anchoring the new Steeplechase Plaza. New Yorkers and tourists alike now have even more reasons to visit Coney Island.”
Barbara Teitelbaum, co-chair of Community Board 13’s Parks & Recreation Committee, reminisced about racing to claim a moving horse, and then trying to reach the brass ring on her favorite ride, the B&B Carousell [sic].
Now, several decades later, as the ride has been completely restored, those who worked to get the Coney Island classic up and running again have certainly seized the brass one.
Students from P.S. 90 — a school heavily affected by Superstorm Sandy– were jubilant as they took the first spin on Coney’s newest addition.
“It is a symbol of the resilience shown in the past six years, especially the past six months,” said President of the Coney Island Development Corporation, Nate Bliss.
According to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz ,“As long as Nathan’s reopened, life is good.”
The wooden carousel, containing 50 hand-carved horses and two chariots, was brought to Coney Island in 1932, where it served as a beacon of joy for many neighborhood children until 1973. It was then sold to Mike Saltzstein and James McCullough. When word got out that the carousel was going to be auctioned off, the city pooled its resources, and bought the ride in 2005.
After being completely restored, the ride is now totally handicapped accessible, ensuring that anyone who wishes to experience a piece of Coney Island history firsthand may do so (for only $3!).
Teitelbaum attributes the successful operation largely to the “wonderful relationship between Coney Island and the Parks Department.”
Additionally, the New York Aquarium – which was devastated by Sandy – has partially reopened and is debuting its newly renovated Aquatheater this May. Under Wildlife Conservation Society Vice President and Director of the Aquarium, Jon Forrest Dohlin, a summer-long Sea Lion Celebration will strive to educate the population about respecting wildlife and the environment we share with them.
Senior trainer Geunter Skammel, and Angela Coccoma will engage audiences with splashes and laughs alongside their aquatic friends, sea lions Duke and Osborne.
After hundreds of workers removed 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of debris, and transported tons of sand to the shoreline, Coney Island is back, and better than ever.
CB 13 Chairperson Eddie Mark is excited that the neighborhood is finally reaching its full potential, saying, “Coney Island is going to be the Times Square of Brooklyn.”