PHOTOS: Thunderbolt, costumed pooches take center stage at Coney

With summer finally just around the corner, Coney Island celebrated its peak season this past weekend with two growing traditions.

First off, dogs took over Deno’s Wonder Wheel for the Sixth Annual Pet Day and Costume Contest. The competition, held on the Coney Island Boardwalk on Saturday, June 11, featured 25 pooches and their dressed-up owners.

“It was a great day. The weather was beautiful and a lot of people showed up to watch the contest,” said Jen Gapay, the organizer of the event. “Seeing all the dogs in their costumes was adorable.”

The owners got into the spirit of competition along with their dogs. “Our first place winner was a Pug named Calypso, who was dressed up like a tooth fairy along with his owner,” she added. “ Our second place winner was Malibu, a Maltese that was dressed as a lobster and his owner was a chef, and he had the dog in a pot. It was creepy, but so cute.”

Third place winner went to a mixed breed named Shaggy who was fully dressed as a skateboarder along with his owner. “When we put the three winners together, the other two dogs looked at the skater dog like he was the coolest,” she added.

The event’s judges were Councilmember Mark Treyger, Diane Vourderis of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and New York Times reporter and pet columnist Andy Newman.

First price took home a season pass for Deno’s Wonder Wheel and a $150 gift certificate to Petco. Second place won day passes to Deno’s and a $75 gift certificate to the pet store, while third place took home a one-day pass and a $25 gift certificate.

In addition, pets got to ride for free with their owners on the Wonder Wheel. “They really enjoyed the ride,” she said.

On Sunday June 12, Luna Park celebrated the second anniversary of its major thrill coaster, Thunderbolt. Though it’s named after the once revered wooden coaster, it has little to do with its predecessor as it’s been modernized.


From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the first 100 people who lined up to ride the coaster were able to get on free of charge. Luna Park Brand Manager Angie Morris said that Coney lovers showed up as early as noon.

“The event went really well. This is our second year doing it and it was very exciting. It shows they are anxious for not just Luna Park, but for one of their favorite rides,” she said.

Angela Lee from Power 105.1 also joined the festivities to meet and greet the brave souls that went on the coaster, and became a fan of the ride. “This was also her first time getting on the Thunderbolt,” Morris added.

Although there were a lot of first timers celebrating the anniversary, there were also die-hard fans in attendance. “It was exciting seeing a few people enjoy their first time, but also people that have been on the Thunderbolt quite a few times take advantage of getting a free ride opportunity.”

The Thunderbolt has been a big hit since it opening back in 2014. “Ridership has really increased. You see the loyalty. You see the interest is there,” Morris said.

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