Although later than expected, Coney fun has returned for the 2016 season, much to the delight of Brooklynites.
After being postponed for a week due to a possible snow storm, the shorefront neighborhood’s annual opening ceremonies were held on Saturday, March 26.
Local elected officials and dignitaries were joined at the festivities by a large group of amusement park fans.
“In Staten Island, they need a groundhog to determine when spring arrives. But here in southern Brooklyn, the roars of the Cyclone and Thunderbolt determine that spring has arrived,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger during the ceremonies.
“Saturday’s season opener in Coney Island was a success,” added Johanna Zaki, executive director for the Alliance for Coney Island. “Waiting a week certainly helped as Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day, a perfect day for opening ceremonies. Many folks came out to enjoy the weather, rides and our concessions. The district was full with families enjoying the day.”
Festivities began at 11 a.m. when the Amusement District kicked off the season at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park with the “Blessing of the Rides,” a family tradition that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by park owners Dennis and Steve Vourderis.
This year, the ceremony honored local community leader Pastor Debbe Santiago, who died this past winter. “Debbe’s spirit will always be with Coney Island,” Dennis said. “This year promises to be terrific with all the new attractions, and visitors.”
To celebrate the 96th anniversary of the histoic Wonder Wheel, the first 96 attendees got on the ride for free.
At 11:30 a.m., the action moved over to the historic 89-year-old Cyclone roller coaster, which has been refurbished. The Annual Egg Cream Christening of the Coney Island Cyclone was presided over by Borough President Eric Adams.
“For generations, Coney Island has been a destination for recreation, where families from Brooklyn and beyond visit to enjoy carnival games, amusement rides, the Boardwalk, and the beach,” he said.
“The Cyclone is one of the most fun and best known roller-coasters in the country and the opening day ceremony for Luna Park was such a fun event,” added State Senator Marty Golden. “Luna Park is something that Brooklynites can be proud of and bring their family to to enjoy a great day of fun.”
Zaki expects a big year for Coney.
“Opening day ceremonies are a reminder and testament to how much Coney Island has transformed over the past couple of years,” said Zaki. “Last year alone we had eight new businesses open in the district plus new rides debuting at both Deno’s and Luna. This year we will be celebrating the opening of the new amphitheater in addition to even more businesses coming to the area.”