Coney Island Blog - Events

 

New Years Day Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

The place to be on New Year’s Day is Coney Island and the best way to welcome 2023 is with a splash in the Atlantic. Join the Coney Island Polar Club for their 120th Annual New Year’s Day Plunge on January 1st from 11 AM until 2 PM. The party starts on the Boardwalk at 10 AM.

Polar Bear Club president Dennis Thomas talks about the New Year's Day Plunge over the decades in an oral history he recorded for the Coney Island History Project in 2019: "It's been going on as long as anybody knows and it used to be just kind of an informal gathering of the Polar Bear Club itself. Then more people from the public," says Dennis, who began swimming with the Bears in the 1970s. "When I first started, if there were a hundred people there, we'd say, wow, this was huge. It's a bucket list thing. People want to do it once in their life and New Year's Day is a great day to do that."

There is no fee to participate but all funds raised help support local non-profits offering environmental, educational, and cultural programming including the New York Aquarium, the Coney Island History Project, Coney Island USA, Coney Island YMCA, and more.

Visit polarbearclub.org to register in advance for the New Year's Day Plunge or make a donation.

Photo Credit: Jim McDonnell
 

December 10 Coney Island Creek Workshop

You're invited to join the Coney Island Beautification Project, the Coney Island History Project, and the New York Aquarium on Saturday, December 10, for a Coney Island Creek Workshop. The event will be held from 10am - 2pm at the Aquarium's Education Hall. The Aquarium is located at 602 Surf Avenue. Education Hall is accessible from the Boardwalk. Seating is limited! Please register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/G7VS5SW.

It’s been 10 years since Super Storm Sandy . . . How will our community be protected in the future? Learn about the new Army Corps flood control plan for Southern Brooklyn. Please attend this community driven workshop and make your voices heard. How can we collectively improve storm resilience, ecological health, and public access in ways that benefit the community and Coney Island Creek?

Representatives from New York City Housing Authority, NYC Emergency Management, Environmental Defense Fund, and more will be at the workshop. Preparedness giveaways! Chinese and Russian interpreters will be present. 

November 10 Growing Up in Coney Island

You're invited to join the Coney Island History Project in November for two special events. We're excited to be wrapping up Season Two of Coney Island Stories with a conversation and a performance about “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, the theme of this year’s podcast. The dates for these two Zoom webinars are November 10 and November 17, successive Thursdays, from 7-8pm.

The online event on November 10 will be a conversation about growing up in Coney Island with some of the narrators whose oral histories are featured in the podcast series. November 17 will be a reading and performance of their own work by narrators who are writers, poets, musicians, and actors. In addition, some narrators will read passages from historical memoirs about growing up in Coney Island.

The online events are hosted by Charles Denson and Tricia Vita, who co-produce the podcast with independent audio producer Ali Lemer. Charles Denson is executive director of the Coney Island History Project and the author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, named 2002 New York Book of the Year by the New York Society Library. He grew up in Coney Island and began documenting his neighborhood as a boy, a passion that continues to this day. Tricia Vita has a certificate in reminiscence and life story work and creates reminiscence events and records oral histories for the Coney Island History Project.

Tickets for the November 10 and 17 events are free of charge. Advance registration is required. You will be sent the Zoom link two days before the event.

👉 Register for Thursday, November 10 at 7:00PM - 8:00PM 

👉 Register for Thursday, November 17 at 7:00PM - 8:00PM

This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Nov 17 Coney Island History Project

 

posted Nov 4th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Growing Up in Coney Island, Conversation, Reading,...

Deno's Wonder Wheel Outdoor Banner Exhibit

This month is your last chance to ride the Wonder Wheel and to see our outdoor exhibits at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park until Palm Sunday 2023! The Coney Island History Project's new permanent exhibit of history panels celebrating the 60th anniversary of Astroland is in front of the Astroland Rocket, directly across from Deno's bumper cars.

You can also see an exhibit of colorful history banners telling the remarkable story of the Wonder Wheel and Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. The banners are located on the Wheel's walkway adjacent to the History Project, as well as below Deno's Phoenix Roller Coaster on West 12th Street. The exhibits are free and on view through October 30 during park hours. Hours of operation are subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Astroland Rocket
 

The Storm Charles Denson

This month is the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. On Friday, October 21, Coney Island History Project Director Charles Denson's documentary The Storm (2013) will be shown at Coney Island Brewery at 1904 Surf Avenue. The screening is at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public. The filmmaker will be present to talk about what we learned from Sandy.

Denson rode out Superstorm Sandy in Sea Gate, where his apartment and car were destroyed by the storm surge. He recorded dramatic footage of the storm coming ashore on the evening of October 29, 2012, as well as the preparations for the storm, the surge at Coney Island and Sea Gate, and the storm's aftermath.

This film is timely, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has just released the New York Harbor Coastal Resiliency Plan. The complex proposal will have extreme consequences for Coney Island and the surrounding shorefront communities. Also, there is no guarantee that the $52 billion plan will prevent catastrophic flooding. Come to the screening to find out more about the plan!
 

posted Oct 17th, 2022 in Events and tagged with film screening, film, documentary,...

Coney Island Stories Podcast Episode 8

"Growing Up in the 2000s," the new episode of Coney Island Stories, has dropped. Listen and subscribe via your podcast app or the podcast page on our website.

Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Eight, the final episode of this season, we’re sharing the stories of narrators who grew up in Coney Island or came here from nearby neighborhoods, in the first decade of the 2000s.

The new millennium began with the opening of a thirty million dollar ballpark for a Mets farm team on the site of Steeplechase Park. A contest was held to name the new team and the Brooklyn Cyclones was the winning name. Whenever the Cyclones won a home game, Astroland’s Cyclone roller coaster enjoyed a surge of business.

Soon after Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002, he set his sights on Coney Island. He envisioned world-class attractions and hotels surrounded by high-rise residential development on vacant amusement land. The objective was to make Coney Island into a year-round recreational oceanfront destination by rezoning it. The ensuing zoning battle kept Coney in the headlines for the next six years, as speculators bought and sold land, and preservationists and stakeholders offered alternative visions for the future of the “People’s Playground.”

The oral histories in Episode Seven are with Ahmed Hussain, Abby Jordan, Bonnie Kong, Candi Rafael, and Eric Sanchez. The interviews were conducted by Kaara Baptiste, Allison Corbett, Amanda Deutch, Samira Tazari, and Lauren Vespoli between 2015 and 2022. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

posted Oct 7th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Coney Island, Coney Island Stories, oral history,...

Coney Island History Project

The Coney Island History Project’s free exhibition center will be open for Labor Day Weekend, including Monday, from 1 – 7 PM, for our last weekend of the summer season. Stop by and take a selfie with Cy, the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops, and our original Steeplechase Horse. Also on view is a special exhibition of photography by Barbara Rosenberg and Coney Island’s oldest surviving artifact, the 1823 Toll House sign. It dates back to the days when the toll for a horse and rider to “the Island” was five cents.

After Labor Day, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park remain open weekends and school holidays through the end of October. The History Project's outdoor exhibitions at Deno's are on display in the lower park adjacent to the Wheel during park hours.

A new permanent exhibit of history panels celebrating the 60th anniversary of Astroland is in front of the Astroland Rocket, directly across from the bumper cars. You can also see an exhibit of colorful history banners telling the remarkable story of the Wonder Wheel and the family that operates Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. The banners are located on the Wheel's walkway adjacent to the History Project, as well as below Deno's Phoenix Roller Coaster on West 12th Street. The exhibits are free and on view through October 30 during park hours. Hours of operation are subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Stay tuned for announcements of free events sponsored by the Coney Island History Project in September and October!

Astroland Rocket
 

Coney Island Stories Season 2 Episode 6

"Growing Up in the 1980s," the new episode of Coney Island Stories, has dropped. Listen and subscribe via your podcast app or the podcast page on our website.

Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Six, narrators who grew up here in the 1980s, or grew up coming to Coney Island from nearby neighborhoods, share their stories. They remember living in Gravesend Houses and O’Dwyer Gardens, high-rises overseen by the New York City Housing Authority, as well as apartments on West 19th Street and in Brightwater Towers.  Astroland Park, Fabers Fascination Arcade, and Ruby’s Bar and Grill were their playgrounds.

Coney Island during the 1980s is best symbolized by Greek immigrant Denos Vourderis’s purchase of the 1920 Wonder Wheel, the amusement area’s oldest continuously operating ride and the founding of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. Another ray of hope in 1980’s Coney Island was the Astella Development Corporation’s plan to build low-rise attached homes on vacant lots slated for high-rise projects that were abandoned when the city went broke in the 1970s. Astella developed or renovated nearly one thousand single-family, owner-occupied homes on city-owned land in the 1980s.

The oral histories in Episode Six are with Alito Hernandez, Shavon Meyers, Zohra Saed, Eric Safyan, and Jeffrey L. Wilson. The interviews were conducted by Kaara Baptiste, Charles Denson, Leila Goldstein, and Tricia Vita between 2017 and 2021. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

posted Aug 8th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Coney Island, Coney Island History Project, podcast,...

Remembering Astroland

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of Astroland Park, Coney’s space-age attraction that debuted in 1962 at the dawn of the space race. The Coney Island History Project is celebrating the event with a new permanent exhibit of history panels installed in front of the Astroland Moon Rocket located at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.  The Rocket is in the lower park, across from the Bumper Cars and adjacent to the Wonder Wheel.

It’s not often that an attraction leaves Coney Island and then returns. The Astroland Rocket was the first ride at Astroland. After it was retired in the 1970s, it was lifted to the roof of Gregory and Paul’s Restaurant on the Boardwalk, and served as an iconic advertisement for the Park. When Astroland closed in 2008, Carol and Jerry Albert, owners of Astroland Park, donated the Rocket to the City, which promised to make it a centerpiece of the new, revitalized amusement and entertainment district. 

The old space ship languished in a vacant lot on the shoreline of Staten Island, abandoned, forgotten, and damaged by Hurricane Sandy until rescued by the History Project and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The Vourderis family offered space for the Rocket and History Project founder Carol Albert paid to have it moved back to Coney Island in 2014, where it found a new home and a place of honor beside the landmark Wonder Wheel.

"Outer space simulators have played a prominent role in Coney's amusement history,” said Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project. His 2015 film, The Rocket Has Landed, tells the story of Coney's fascination with intergalactic travel. “It began when Thompson and Dundy brought 'A Trip to the Moon' to Steeplechase Park in 1902 and culminated in 1962, with Astroland's Moon Rocket."

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park is open daily from 12pm until 10pm on weekdays and until 11:30pm on Fridays-Sundays through Labor Day, weather permitting. In September and October, Deno's is open weekends and school holidays. The exhibition is free and on view from July 31 through October 30 during park hours. Hours of operation are subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Remembering Astroland

Remembering Astroland

Remembering Astroland

Remembering Astroland

posted Jul 27th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Astroland, 60th anniversary, Astroland Rocket,...

Coney Island History Project Podcast Coney Island Stories

"Growing Up in the 1970s," the new episode of Coney Island Stories, has dropped. Listen and subscribe via your podcast app or the podcast page on our website.

Season Two’s theme is “Growing Up in Coney Island” through the decades, from the 1930s to the 21st century. In Episode Five, Coney Islanders who grew up in the 1970s share memories of being the original tenants of Carey Gardens and O’Dwyer Gardens, newly built high-rise developments overseen by the New York City Housing Authority. They remember the razing of entire blocks in the West End during urban renewal, pervasive crime affecting their lives, and gangs like the Homicides and the Seven Immortals inspiring the movie The Warriors. By mid-decade, New York City went broke and abandoned Coney Island. The one bright spot in the 1970s was Astroland amusement park’s two million dollar investment in new rides, including the Enterprise, named after the USS Enterprise in the TV series Star Trek, and sponsorship of air shows with the Army Golden Knights and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

The oral histories in Episode Five are with Karen Dawn Blondel, Mindy Gress, Orlando Mendez, Gene Ritter, Keith Suber, and Eliot Wofse. The interviews were conducted by Charles Denson, Amanda Deutch, Katya Kumkova, Mark Markov, and Tricia Vita between 2016 and 2022. This episode was produced by Charles Denson, Ali Lemer and Tricia Vita. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

This program is sponsored in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

posted Jul 9th, 2022 in Events and tagged with Coney Island, Coney Island History Project, oral history,...