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Coney Island Memorial Day weekend guide: Smorgasburg market, art and more

Hordes of sunbathers and amusement ride freaks will descend on Coney Island this Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season for the "people's playground."

While most people will be headed to the classic rides, to grab a bite to eat at Nathan's or to catch the plentiful rays, there's a bunch of new things to do and see this weekend.

We've rounded up some of the highlights here, from the Smorgasburg food market to a new exhibition at the Coney Island History Project.

Coney Island Art Walls

One of this summer's best art shows in
Photo Credit: Twitter/coneyartwalls

One of this summer's best art shows in the city may be at Coney Island.

Some of the world's most influential street artists are creating more than 20 wall murals that will be interspersed among Smorgasburg vendors on a 55,000-square-foot lot in Coney Island.

Though the Coney Island Art Walls have already been going up, not all of the murals are finished, and visitors will get to see the artists work on them in real time. The show is curated by Jeffrey Deitch, the former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

You can find the walls at the lot bordered by Bowery Street, West 15th Street and Stillwell Avenue, not far from the beach and boardwalk.

Coney Island Stereoviews

Once upon a time, families would entertain themselves
Photo Credit: Coney Island History Project

Once upon a time, families would entertain themselves not with TV or streaming video, but with stereoview photography. People would place wooden handheld viewers to their faces wtih cards shot with a special camera that would create the illusion of 3-D.

For their first exhibition of the season, the Coney Island History Project is giving visitors to their humble storefront off West 12th Street below the Wonder Wheel a chance to look at stereoview photos of Coney Island from the 1860s to the 1920s.

Organizers say these are some of the oldest photographs of Coney Island, showing the historic Oceanic Hotel, the Coney Island Tollhouse and other long-gone places.

The exhibition opens on Saturday, with exhibition season beginning weekends and holidays through Labor Day.

Smorgasburg at Coney Island

Smorgasburg is popping up in Coney Island for
Photo Credit: Max MacClennen/Brooklyn Flea

Smorgasburg is popping up in Coney Island for the first time this summer, with a grand opening on Saturday.

The popular food market debuts in a 55,000-square-foot lot with vendors housed in 13 colorful shipping containers. Blue Marble Ice Cream, Bon Chovie, Queen Cobra Thai, Red Hook Lobster Pound and others have all signed on to feed the masses.

Smorgasburg will also have two bars serving Smorgasbeer, all of which will be open Friday-Sunday through June 22 when the market will be open daily.

"Boredom," a satiric, Marxist play involving Maxim Gorky

In the early 1900s, Soviet writer Maxim Gorky
Photo Credit: Norman Blake

In the early 1900s, Soviet writer Maxim Gorky visited Coney Island and was compelled to describe it as the "city of fire" that entranced visitors with its "ugly variety." From that dispatch, Dick Zigun, the founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, was inspired to write his play, "Boredom," in which Gorky "lectures, drinks, smokes and pisses during the show."

Doesn't sound boring at all! But the play, according to the producers, denounces amusement rides.

Coney Island USA, Zigun's nonprofit arts organization, is debuting a new production of the play on Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Sunday. The show will also play the last weekend in May.

Coney Island USA is the home of seaside freaks and producers of the annual Mermaid Parade.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Warm Up Party

Ninety-five years ago, the Wonder Wheel opened at
Photo Credit: Flickr / Kilgub

Ninety-five years ago, the Wonder Wheel opened at Coney Island on Memorial Day. To celebrate, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is throwing a party to kick off a summer-long celebration of the historic ride.

The fun starts on Monday, at 11 a.m., when the first riders will get keepsake collectible pins, and people exiting the wheel will have a chance at a bite of birthday cake and mini-cupcakes.

Just remember, though, that this is just the warm-up party: The actual birthday bash is on History Day on Aug. 8.


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