Gloomy weather didn’t stop the Coney Island faithful on Sunday.
Luna Park and the Cyclone kicked off their 2018 season with the first wave of visitors, and — of course — lots of egg cream.
Dennis Vourderis, co-owner of Deno’s Wonder Wheel, said crews had to work extra hard to clear the boardwalk and attractions of the leftover snow from last week’s nor’easter.
“Coney Island is resilient. We always bounce back and we get open on time,” he said.
Vourderis and his fellow Coney Island business owners marked the start of the season with the annual blessing of the rides and the egg-cream christening of the Cyclone. Although the boardwalk only saw a smattering of visitors due to the weather, many of them said they were thrilled to be among the first to enjoy the park.
Bill Galvin, 68, of Baltimore, first came to Luna Park back when it was Astroland in the 70s, and has attended opening day for years.
“There’s a whole lot of computerized rides out there, but this is the real thing,” he said.
Instead of charging admission Saturday, the park accepted donations to Girl Scout Troop 6000, which helps homeless teens across the city. The Alliance for Coney Island, a nonprofit which has helped revitalize the neighborhood, couldn’t provide information on how much money was raised, but businesses said it drew a huge crowd
DJ Vourderis, Dennis’s nephew who also works at the Wonder Wheel, said the allure of the beach, the boardwalk and Coney Island’s welcoming environment in universal.
“It’s easy to wake up and see a world of hate and fear. We don’t have that here,” he said. “We are one family playing nice in this sandbox we call home.”
And that playground is going to get bigger this summer. The alliance said the long awaited 50,000-square-foot expansion of the New York Aquarium’s “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” exhibit will open this summer.
The exhibit will showcase thousands of marine life species, as well as new views of the beach.
“We will now have the two bookends of Coney Island open, the amphitheater and Ocean Wonders,” said Alexandra Silversmith, the alliance’s executive director.