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Opening Day 2013 in Coney Island

Cyclone comes back from the cyclone

Brooklyn Daily

Coney Island’s amusement district came riding back triumphantly from Hurricane Sandy on March 24 — though a demonstration by neighborhood residents showed that storm clouds still linger over much of the peninsula.

Thousands lined up to ride on the iconic 80-plus-year-old Cyclone rollercoaster and Wonder Wheel, which both sustained only minor damage in the storm, while a few dozen came out to protest still-shuttered community centers and limited neighborhood amenities in the surrounding area.

Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusements International — the company that operates the Cyclone and Luna Park — said that the big opening day reflected a collective effort to rise above Sandy’s floodwaters.

“Many in the Coney Island area were affected by Hurricane Sandy and we, along with our great community have spent the past few months recovering and rebuilding our home,” says Valerio Ferrari, adding that his company would roll out new amusements in the coming months.

But Ed Cosme, founder of the People’s Coalition of Coney Island, said his group’s rally was necessary to draw attention to the ongoing problems in the larger Coney community.

“We weren’t trying to take anything away from the amusements. It’s their day to celebrate, but there are more immediate needs in our neighborhoods,” Cosme said.

Cosme said the Coalition protest attracted the attention of city leaders attending the opening ceremonies, and that he hopes to meet with officials in the weeks to come.

But there was also a bonding of amusements and community on Sunday, at Wonder Wheel Park, where 300 Coney kids from the Salt and Sea Mission youth program got to go on the rides for free as part of a 25-year-old tradition. Salt and Sea Pastor Debbe Santiago — who also performed her annual “blessing of the rides” —said she was glad to see the legendary wheel still turning, and children from the area still climbing on board.

“It was a big milestone, a quarter century that Deno’s Wonder Wheel has been doing this for the kids in the community, and it’s great. And it’s especially important after all the devastation,” said Santiago, whose mission will soon move into a new space near the corner of Neptune and Stillwell avenues after losing their longtime location at the corner of Mermaid Avenue and W. 16th Street last month.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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Reader Feedback

Irina from Coney Island says:
Domenic Recchia doesn't care about Coney Island. All he cares about is getting money from his financial backers in the Sephardic community in return for his support for their candidate for his seat. He has funneled millions of dollars in taxpayer money to the Sephardic center on Ocean Parkway where no Coney Islanders are allowed to be members! He is corrupt corrupt corrupt!
March 28, 2013, 12:57 pm
sal from coney island says:
Who ever Irina is : She is 100 % correct. All you have to do is check out the "member item" monies on the web that Recchia has given to the Sephardic Community Center...and the Survey says....
$ 690,000. and that is just the last 3 years...2010,2011 & 2012. What the total is for his tenure on the Council for 12 years is not known because their was no listing of Recchia's money give-away before 2010. It was not required !!
March 29, 2013, 8:38 am

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