Jamie and I were out at Coney Island to see the Fireworks on the Friday before the Friday before the Labor Day Weekend. As we sat eating hot dogs and fries at the boardwalk-adjacent tables by the Nathan’s that faces the beach, I noticed a Pink Panther earning some cash by posing for photos with tourists. Because a panther’s gotta make a living.
If you haven’t been out to Coney Island yet to see the Summer Fireworks, then don’t forget that the Friday of Labor Day Weekend is your last chance to experience the magic until they start again next June! So, you must plan your trip right now. Let’s go!
The Parachute Jump is a defunct amusement ride in Coney Island, whose iconic open-frame steel structure remains a Brooklyn landmark. Standing 250 feet tall and weighing 170 tons, it has been called the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn. Well, I’ve never called it that, but apparently some people have.
If you Google “Photos of Coney Island” you will see that it is arguably the single most photographed landmark near the Boardwalk. Originally built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, the tower was moved to its current site, then part of the Steeplechase Park amusement park, in 1941.
It is the only portion of Steeplechase Park still standing today. The ride ceased operations in 1964, when that park shut down for good. How old were you in 1964? I was 3.
The ride was based on functional parachutes which were held open by metal rings throughout the ascent and descent. Twelve cantilevered steel arms sprout from the top of the tower, each of which supported a parachute attached to a lift rope and a set of surrounding guide cables.
Riders were belted into a two-person canvas seat hanging below the closed chute, then hoisted to the top, where a release mechanism would drop them, the descent slowed only by the parachute. Shock absorbers at the bottom, consisting of pole-mounted springs, cushioned the landing. Each parachute required three cable operators, keeping labor expenses high.
The tower lights up at night, and colorful the patterns change constantly. It is quite mesmerizing to view.
We had fun. We always do.
Two of my most-memorable adventures of the summer of 2015 were a Saturday afternoon, and a Friday evening, that I spent having various types of crazy fun at Coney Island, Brooklyn — which is truly a magical place where there are endless wonders just waiting to be discovered. I just love it there. If you are also fan of Coney Island, then I hope you had the chance to see Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008, which, sadly, just closed at the Brooklyn Museum this past weekend.
We made the trek to Coney Island last Friday evening to take in the penultimate Fireworks show from right on the beach — an appropriate way to celebrate the end of what has been a fantastic Summer! We had time to kill before the show started though, so we had fun eating at Nathan’s and cruising the shops, including the Lola Star Gift Shop, which is located on the Boardwalk just east of Coney Island Pier. Hanging up high on the wall, right behind the cash register, we could not miss this large Lite Brite recreation of Luna Park.”Is that a Lite Brite?” I screamed excitedly at the sales lady. “Yes!” she screamed back. “It’s the biggest in the world!”
And so I had to take a picture, or two.
“No photos allowed anywhere in the store!” another sales lady shouted at me. But it was too late: I had taken the photos, and many others actually also.
While we do not believe that the Lola Star Luna Park Lite Brite is in fact the World’s Biggest Lite Brite, we did hear somewhere that this piece was originally designed for and displayed by Hugo Boss, but we have no proof that that is so.