How cute are these little guys? If you are familiar with the Pokemon species, then you know this round, pink creature is called a Jigglypuff. This past summer, Jigglypuff was available to win as a prize at various carnival games found at Coney Island’s Luna Park. This plush toy is about the size of basketball.
Close to the end of every summer, I make my annual Friday evening pilgrimage to Coney Island to walk on the boardwalk, explore the rides and games at Luna Park, eat a hot dog, watch the freaks, and check out the amazing fireworks show!
After a short while spent observing the scene, you will start to notice folks lugging around various huge, oversized stuffed toys they’ve won playing the games. This year, the Giant Pink Banana was a popular prize for several of the games!
Look how cheerful he is! Pink Banana!
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!
First of all, you should plan to arrive on the scene early enough so that you can get a Hot Dog and some Fries (or whatever else you like to eat) at Nathan’s. There is also a Nathan’s right on the Boardwalk, if you prefer a bumped up level of quality freak watching to that which is available at the original location on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues. The food is equally delicious at either location.
Don’t forget to stop by the Coney Art Walls, which will be up until October!
As you stroll along the Boardwalk, stop by this Snow Cone Stand and treat yourself to an additional refreshment!
At the north end of the Boardwalk you’ll find an old fashioned Carousel, for kids of all ages!
And don’t forget to check out the games and other fun attractions!
Even if you are going to pass on checking out any of the Luna Park rides, because you have just eaten at Nathan’s and do not want to barf, it is wonderful just to look at everything when it is all lit up against the night sky. Head out to the sand early and watch all of the action from the beach, while you listen to the delighted screams and shrieks from people on the rides! Wee!
Oh, the beautifulness.
Now it is 9:30 PM, and time for the Fireworks to begin! Lets go to the video!
The full show lasts much longer than 2 minutes, but you get the idea.
And then stop by Williams Candy Shop on the way to the train to pick up a sweet treat to take home! What a fun adventure!
Find out more about the Coney Island Fireworks, as well as other fun stuff to do on your visit, at This Link
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. Geoffrey made it out there just in time!
This exhibit was an unexpected delight; overflowing with vintage carnival ride and game props, photography spanning over 100 years, and artworks of every kind that were inspired by the vibe of Coney Island. Please enjoy a selection of my photos!
Carousels were being carved in England and Germany before they became popular in America. In 1907, the inventor William F. Mangels, who immigrated to New York from Germany, patented the overhead gears that controlled the galloping motion of the carousel horse. His design became standard in the field. Mangels collaborated with Coney Island’s best wood carvers, many of whom were also immigrants. Between 1880 and 1920, Coney Island produced a distinctive style of carved carousel animals characterized by flamboyant decorations and expressive faces. They were the product of Danish-born Charles I.D. Looff and the wood carvers he inspired, including Solomon Stein, Harry Goldstein, and Charles Carmel, whose horses are show in the photo above. Stein, Goldstein and Carmel were Eastern European Jewish wood-carvers who had fled anti-Semitism. They brought to America a tradition of carving symbolic animal imagery for synagogues, and found an outlet for their talent in the American carousel industry.
The bald eagle on this ride’s saddle (see detail, below) trumpets Coney Island as a symbol of American patriotism, while the Camel’s Arabian origin and tasseled breastplate evoke the Middle East, in keeping with the various parks’ exotic architecture. Charles I.D. Looff built the first hand-carved carousel at Coney Island in 1876, just six years after he emigrated from Denmark.
Six silver dragons form the spokes of this electrified gambling wheel. Their snakelike forms resemble Chinese dragons, legendary creatures that are historically associated with the emperor’s imperial power. As symbols of prosperity and good luck, dragons appealed to the diverse visitors who came to Coney Island.
In this painting, the distorting mirrors that clad the barker’s booth turn normal spectators into freaks, commenting on notions of perception and difference.
Coney Island, 1948 By George Tooker
Even if you did not get the chance to see this exhibit for yourself, I hope that all of my photos will be getting you inspired and exited to head out to Coney Island for your own adventures once the summer kicks off in just a few months!
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.
If you haven’t been to Coney Island at least once this summer, you owe it to yourself to make the trip. Most residents of Manhattan who live, say, from midtown to the east village area, can make it from the door to the shore in under 90 minutes, depending on how the trains are running. And for half the ride, the trains run above ground, so that makes it a bit more interesting of a ride as well. Even if you are not a “Beach Person” (raises hand), and the rides at Luna Park make you barf (keeps hand raised) there is so much to see and do at Coney Island that all you need to have is an adventurous spirit, and maybe some sunblock.
If you are a street art lover, you will absolute want to plan a visit to see the Coney Art Walls, a public art project conceived by art dealer and curator Jeffrey Deitch, which is going to be up until Halloween. Coney Art Walls features more than 25 colorful murals created by some of the most well-known street artists in the world. We spotted many of our favorites artists including How & Nosm, Roa, Buff Monster, Kenny Scharf and Ron English, as well as a selection of artists who are still up-and-coming. It’s a great mix of talent.
The walls are interspersed with re-purposed cargo containers to create a pop-up truck food village, with food sold by vendors organized by Smorgasburg. Concerts are also held in the space.
Belgian artist Roa gets two adjoining walls to create a juxtaposed Rat and Rat Skeleton.
Coney Art Walls are located at 1320 Bowery Street right behind the original Nathan’s on Surf Avenue.
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