The Memorial Day Weekend is over but the fun is just getting started in Coney Island, as the “People’s Playground” gears up for a summer of fun and thrills.
“We are thrilled to welcome beachgoers back to our amazing Boardwalk and amusement district for the 2019 season,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island.
The 96-year-old Riegelmann Boardwalk was declared an official New York City landmark last year. The beach is expected to attract large crowds of sun worshipers this summer. And the Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel and other rides are awaiting thrill-seekers. Deno’s Wonder Wheel is celebrating its 99th anniversary this year.
Two of the biggest events coming up are the Coney Island USA Annual Mermaid Parade on Saturday, June 22, and the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Thursday, July 4.
Featuring marchers wearing kooky, over-the-top, risqué costumes, the Mermaid Parade is one of the largest artistic parades in the country. Now celebrating its 37th year, the parade’s popularity has seen tremendous growth over the years, according to the Alliance for Coney Island.
Singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie and his sister Nora Guthrie, a writer, have been named King Neptune and Queen Mermaid and will lead the parade. Their late father, folk music legend Woody Guthrie (1912-1967), lived for a time in Coney Island.
Alliance officials are urging spectators to come back and visit Coney Island after the parade is over to take in many of the other recreation opportunities the community has to offer, including the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach and magic shows every Sunday by Magic at Coney.
The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which has been held for more than 40 years, has become a nationally-known and beloved Coney Island tradition.
The contest, which features men and women eating as many hot dogs as they can in a short space of time, gets under way at 10 a.m. The fun-filled foodie war is just the start of a day of fun in Coney Island that will be capped off by the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular at 9:50 p.m. The fireworks show is sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island.
It’s shaping up to be a memorable summer season, according to Silversmith, whose organization promotes Coney Island as a tourist destination and works to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents.
“Our landmark classics and newer rides along with renowned food options and attractions are ready and waiting for everyone to make new memories and take a stroll through history,” Silversmith told this newspaper in an email.
Councilmember Mark Treyger, a Democrat who represents Coney Island, said he’s excited about the summer season.
“Coney Island is the go-to summer destination for city residents and tourists alike. I hope everyone has a chance to take a stroll and enjoy the Coney Island Boardwalk, which was designated as a scenic landmark on its 95th birthday last year, following years of community-driven advocacy. I welcome everyone to join in on the fun and exciting events planned for a fantastic summer,” Treyger told this newspaper.
Treyger led the effort for landmark status for the Boardwalk.
The Coney Island History Project will celebrate History Day on Sunday, June 9. There will be performances by musicians and dancers representing the cultures of all of the countries from which people have immigrated to Coney Island.
The Brooklyn Cyclones, the minor league baseball team that plays its home games in MCU Park, opens its 2019 season on Friday, June 14, with a game against their crosstown rivals, the Staten Island Yankees.
Other upcoming events include the Coney Island Music Festival on Saturday, July 20; the Coney Island Talent Show on Saturday, July 27; and the Coney Island Sand Sculpting Competition on Saturday, August 17.
For more information on Coney Island happenings, visit: www.ConeyIslandFunGuide.com.