Coney Island may have been battered by Superstorm Sandy last October, but local business operators are still hoping for a record summer, according to a report by Crain’s.
Optimism for a full rebound of America’s Playground comes in the form of all the money and hard work poured into Coney’s rebuilding following the superstorm’s impact. According to Wonder Wheel owner Dennis Vourderis, the dozens of attractions have been repainted and refurbished, giving the area a fresh new look.
“We’re gonna look as good as the first day we opened,” Vourderis told Crain’s. “Probably better.”
Other signs of encouragement stem from the record number of visitors Coney has drawn in recent years, as well as a desire by New Yorkers to make sure the local landmark remains bright and strong.
Since a contentious redevelopment in 2009, attendance at the amusement park has set new records each summer, peaking at more than 1 million visitors last year, a 50% increase over the 2011 season.
What’s more, this summer Coney Island will have something else going for it, a wave of public support.
“We’ve gotten so much support in the recovery, online, on the streets, in donations, and I just know that support is going to be down here when we’re open, to celebrate,” said Johanna Zaki, director of operations at the Alliance for Coney Island, a newly formed business group.
Despite the enthusiasm for a full Coney comeback, one famed event – the annual Mermaid Parade – might not make it this year:
The future of the famed Mermaid Parade is also in doubt, because its operator may not be able to afford the event. The parade has grown more popular in recent years, reaching more than half-a-million spectators last year, but so has the cost of hosting it.
Coney Island USA, which has a museum and performance space on Surf Avenue, sustained more than $400,000 in damage, said Dick Zigun, who runs the organization and parade and is often considered the “mayor” of Coney. Mr. Zigun is banking on a fundraiser at Webster Hall Sat., March 9, to see him through. “Without that money, we’re going to have to cut back somewhere,” he said. “As it is, unless we get a lot of walk-ups to the party, I’m not sure we’re gonna make it.”