Resurrecting the Thunderbolt roller coaster and pitching a permanent “big top tent” for the Big Apple Circus in Coney Island sound like intriguing ideas, but it looks like it’s going to take more than a little magic to make them a reality.
Dick Zigun, artistic director for Coney Island, USA, acknowledged that Horace Bullard – part owner of the land between West 15th and West 16th streets where the venerable old Thunderbolt roller coaster once stood – was “bitter” when Zigun talked about his ambitious plans for Coney Island last week – and he was right.
“You have to understand that I’m going off a severe disappointment,” Bullard told this paper this week. “Zigun doesn’t understand the amusement business. He didn’t support my project when I was proposing it.”
Bullard saw his dreams of building a new 25-acre park in Coney Island come crashing down in 2000 when the Thunderbolt roller coaster was demolished by order of the Department of Buildings.
Three years later, a Manhattan Federal Court ruled that the city, under the Giuliani administration, acted improperly when it razed the abandoned ride to make way for KeySpan Park.
“What we came up with was a dream and [Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani busted it up,” a still-smarting Bullard said.
Joel W. Dien, communications director for the The Big Apple Circus, meanwhile, gave a lukewarm response to the possibility of coming to Coney Island.
“We do a national tour,” he said. “It would just be one element if it were ever to come about.”
The Big Apple Circus presently has offices on 35th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan and travels with its shows to 10 cities in 11 months each year.
©2008 Community News Group
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