Coney Island re-opens!

Posted at 6:27 PM, Mar 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-24 18:27:15-04

CONEY ISLAND, NEW YORK (PIX11)– You couldn’t tell by the temperature, but spring was definitely in the air as Coney Island came to life after its annual winter slumber.

Elected officials and thrill-seekers stood side by side as the boardwalk and amusements reopened for the warmer months ahead.

“It’s so much fun because it’s in the spring time and the summer time and you want to have fun with your family, so you just go out to the rides,” said resident Athena Bruce.

“It’s a great place to escape, to get away from it all, to have some fun,” said musician Amos Wengler.

On this day, rides on the world famous Cyclone were free for the first one hundred riders, while the Wonder Wheel was free for the entire day.

Self-proclaimed “Mr. Cyclone” Erik Knapp has ridden the roller-coaster almost two thousand times.

But he says this year was special because it was his first ride since the neighborhood was battered by Sandy, “It means just getting back to normal, the rides are opening again.  We have a long way to go, people lost their houses, businesses have to get together, but it’s a start.”

And while today was mostly about the rides and boardwalk reopening here in Coney Island, some of the residents used it as an opportunity to tell their elected officials what still hasn’t opened in their community after hurricane Sandy.

And there are some resources they say they desperately need.

“A lot of community based organizations that are out here need a lot of help.  We have the police station, Surf Side Gardens, and as you can see in the picture over there the public library.  These things are vital to the community,” said Coney Island Youth Alive representative Sheila Smalls.

“We are on an isolated peninsula here in Coney Island and we feel like they forgot about us, period,” said resident Ed Cosme.

Senator Chuck Schumer, who was on hand for the re-opening, says he knows there’s still repair work to be done.

Even though the federal government approved a 60-billion dollar bill to help with those repairs, Schumer says getting that money will take time, “It’s going to take several months, the bill just passed last month, but the good news is it’s both generous and flexible and is aimed at helping people from every different walk of life who were hurt by Sandy.”