Coney Island burst to life Friday after 18 lengthy months of being shuttered. That is 529 days with out Cyclone rides and boardwalk confections. Native enterprise house owners and politicians, together with Mayor Invoice de Blasio and Senator Chuck Schumer, got here out this overcast morning to participate in a grand, hopeful opening day ceremony for Deno’s Surprise Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park
“Coney Island’s all the time been a spot for folks to come back and keep in mind what it feels wish to smile, and I feel all of us want that now greater than ever,” Deno “DJ” Vourderis, proprietor of Deno’s Surprise Wheel, advised Gothamist previous to the ceremony.
“It has been a darkish tunnel,” Vourderis stated. “We’re undoubtedly not out of that tunnel, however we’ve a glimmer of sunshine on the finish of the darkish tunnel, and simply having the ability to do the issues that we’re identified for and the issues that we have all the time accomplished is one thing that we have been wanting ahead to for 18 months now—and that provides us hope.”
It was an extended and tough highway getting there although—each the Surprise Wheel and Luna Park have been shut down since October nineteenth, 2019, leaving the realm a ghost city final summer season in the course of the pandemic.
Alexandra Silversmith, government director of the Alliance for Coney Island, a public-private partnership that advocates for the neighborhood’s revitalization, advised Gothamist that they’ve estimated the entire losses for native companies within the space final 12 months to be round $100 million.
However like Vourderis, Silversmith was stuffed with optimism about this summer season: “We’re actually excited to have 2021 actually have laughter and screams within the air as folks benefit from the rides, when it was deafening and silent final 12 months,” she advised Gothamist. “It has been such a difficult time and we have been combating, combating, combating actually for nearly a 12 months now to reopen, making an attempt to make the case that we’re protected to take action.”
“And now, to have the ability to carry folks again to work, it is simply nice information,” she added. “It has been such a tough 12 months. So it’s actually, actually thrilling to have the ability to say one thing constructive for as soon as.”
Mayor de Blasio supplied two proclamations in honor of Deno’s Surprise Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park to mark at this time’s reopening, and advised the group on the opening ceremony, “Everybody unfold the message: Coney Island’s again, and meaning NYC’s again.”
Vourderis additionally gave a stirring speech on the opening ceremony in regards to the significance of Coney Island returning, and what it means for the town to be rigorously and slowly beginning to emerge from the pandemic.
“We’ll get pleasure from little issues extra, holidays with household, an evening out with buddies, a hug—so many issues we took without any consideration, so many joys of life placed on maintain,” he stated. “We began 2020 with a catastrophic pandemic about to devastate our world. We’ll reply with a roaring twenties that result in not simply prosperity, however compassion. We now have an opportunity to show a wounded world into an exquisite one. The eyes of generations to come back might be watching what occurs now, let’s present them who we’re. And so long as we keep in mind who we’re, Coney Island will all the time be a spot for all folks to come back and play. It is a spot the place the troubles of our time could be forgotten.”
You may watch this morning’s opening ceremony, together with Vourderis’ speech, under:
Initially, the parks might be at 33% capability to adjust to state COVID tips; visitors might be mandated to socially distance, put on face coverings, get a temperature test, and buy tickets forward of their go to.
As well as, Vourderis stated there’s plexiglass all through the entire park, a technique aisles exhibiting folks which strategy to stroll, touchless ticketing, and extra security measures in place.
“For the primary time ever, we’ll be a closed gated park in order that we simply haven’t got folks meandering all through the park,” he added. “We will have folks are available, they are going to have a block of time the place they’ll go on rides, after which we are able to management the group.”
Vourderis was adamant that they had been being additional cautious with its reopening realizing that the pandemic is ongoing: “There’s some stress there, however after following science and seeing different examples of what different parks did, we really feel very assured that we are able to do it safely,” he advised Gothamist. “We’re eagerly anticipating the openings however we perceive that we’ve a duty, and that duty comes earlier than the rest.”
Along with the Cyclone and Surprise Wheel, there are a number of new rides for youngsters, together with Circus Sweet, Hearth Patrol, Rainbowheel, AeroMax, Grand Prix, and Mini Mouse. Later this summer season, the park can also be unveiling “Phoenix,” a brand new metal suspended rollercoaster, which Vourderis stated was the largest funding his household has ever made within the park.
“The identify Phoenix was chosen due to the symbolism of rising from the ashes, however we additionally plan on having a extra accepting and loving world from these ashes,” he added.
Silversmith, government director of the Alliance for Coney Island, stated she’d be taking a trip on the Cyclone this morning, and that she has little doubt that the park has taken each obtainable security precaution for attendees. “I actually consider in my coronary heart that this is among the most secure issues to do as a result of it’s outside and since there’s recent air and sunshine and all these parts are the most effective for simply staying protected,” she stated.
And there are extra enjoyable issues on the horizon: “Folks all the time ask, ‘are you going to be celebrating your one hundredth anniversary this 12 months?'” Vourderis stated. “And I say, there might be a time to rejoice, proper now we’re simply going to take child steps and we’ll open slowly. We’re glad about 33%. We will see how that goes, and when acceptable we’ll have an enormous occasion for the Surprise Wheel’s one hundredth, after we actually get previous this pandemic.”