See, not all beach news for this summer is terrible! Some if it is actually great. Namely, reports that after being battered by Sandy back in October, Coney Island is gearing up for what could be a record-breaking year when it officially opens for the season on March 24.
"There are a lot of words that people have used to describe Coney, and one of them is 'gritty,'" Luna Park marketing manager Nicole Purmal explained. "There was a lot of water that literally washed away a lot of undesirable elements, and now paint is going onto a clean surface."
As such, a lot of attractions — including Spook-a-rama, Freakarama, the El Dorado bumper cars, along with numerous shops and restaurants — have actually had the opportunity to perform some needed renovations and updates, though other businesses remain closed and the future of the Mermaid Parade is still unclear. The week after Memorial Day, however, Nathan's plans to host a qualifying match for their annual hot dog eating contest, an event not normally held at Coney Island. "This is our way of letting everybody know we're back, that Coney's back," said the company's president.
The optimism is also founded in record-breaking attendance numbers ever since Luna Park's 2009 re-development (the area saw over 1 million visitors last summer), along with the closure of several other waterfront parks in the wake of the storm. More so than other area beaches, Coney Island was somewhat prepared for the effects of Sandy, having raised the beach by 10 feet following a storm in 1989. "It's heartbreaking, but just across the water from us, there isn't a boardwalk anymore or the beaches might not be opening in a way that they could be fully utilized," Purmal said.
"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," added the Alliance for Coney Island's director of operations. This likely means that Coney will be even more crowded than usual, if such a thing is possible, but when it comes to good beach news in the middle of March, we'll take what we can get.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.