Coney Island opening promises to erase winter blues

Despite a rough winter, Coney Island, America’s Playground, is opening early this spring.

It all begins on Saturday, March 24 as Luna Park, 1000 Surf Avenue, officially launches its 2018 season. Considered New York City’s largest amusement park, Luna Park, this year, is giving a special twist to opening day. Starting at 11 a.m., admission will be free with a donation towards the not-for-profit Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which has coordinated with Luna Park, with 90 percent of proceeds from opening day going to Girl Scout Troop 6000, a troop specially designed to serve the thousands of girls living in the New York City Shelter System.

“We are excited to offer free admission to all park goers this year in exchange for a donation to Troop 6000,” said Fernando Velasquez, general manager of Central Amusement International. “Opening Day signals the beginning of the summer season, and it will be especially fun this year as we help to support girls throughout the city.”

“We’re incredibly excited to partner with Luna Park in kicking off their 2018 season. For generations, the opening of amusements at Coney Island has heralded a season of fun for children across the city. We’re thrilled that the start of this season will do so much to support some of New York City’s most inspiring young people – the girls of Troop 6000,” added Darren Bloch, the fund’s executive director.

A minimum donation of $5 is required per guest. In exchange guests will receive a free wristband to the park, which will grant access to all rides.

Luna Park will open on weekends through Memorial Day. It will open seven days a week beginning Memorial Day weekend, remaining open seven days a week through Labor Day.

The following day, Sunday, March 25, also Palm Sunday, the 33rd Annual Blessing of the Rides will take place at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 3059 West 12th Street, which is celebrating its 98th year, at 10:45 a.m.

As happens every year, the first 300 local kids from Coney Island’s Salt N Sea Mission will get on the rides for free.

In addition, the first 98 attendees will get to ride the Wonder Wheel for free.

“The Vourderis family is delighted to invite everyone to the springtime opening,” say Dennis and Steve Vourderis, owners/operators of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. “Our local Coney Island kids from the Salt N Sea Mission get to enjoy the rides free. We are happy to remember and honor the season opening tradition started by our dad, Denos Vourderis, and the Mission founder, Debbe Santiago, in 1985.”

Then at 11:30 a.m., Borough President Eric Adams, stakeholders and elected officials will gather at the Cyclone at Luna Park to kick off the season officially with a ceremony. Like past years, an egg cream christening will be held in front of the Cyclone prior to the roller coaster’s inaugural ride . Brooklyn Seltzer Boys will provide egg cream samples for the first 150 guests. Also joining in on the extravaganza will be New York’s favorite mascot, Mr. Met.

The early spring opening of the rides under your belt, it’s never too early to plan ahead for the historic Mermaid Parade. Now in its 36th year, it will be held on Saturday, June 16 beginning at 1 p.m. The parade typically draws over half a million young, hip tastemakers.

The parade starts at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue and rolls east to West 10th Street, where it turns towards the Boardwalk, with cars and motorized floats continue down Surf Avenue.

After the last participant passes the review stand at West 19th and Surf Avenue at around 4 p.m., parade founder Dick Zigun will lead the king and queen procession from the review stand through MCU Parking lot to the beach for the official opening of the ocean for the summer swimming season.

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