The following is an excerpt from my novel, which takes place in 1957.
Once upon a time Coney Island was home to three huge amusement parks—Dreamland, Luna Park, and Steeplechase—but now only Steeplechase, at the other end of the neighborhood, was still open.
We three adventurers exited the aquarium onto the boardwalk—hot dog stands, souvenir shops, penny arcades—the same as the old days. Okay, maybe a tad cleaner and less weird.
Soon we were looking down at the new Luna Park which opened in 2010. I knew it would look like this—thank you Google—but not this energetic and crowded with a lot of kids having a lot of fun on this perfect October Saturday afternoon long after Labor Day. Don’t you love it when things get better instead of worse?
I never saw the old Luna Park because it burned down in 1944, before I was born, but it’s presence still haunts Surf Avenue. It was built in 1903 and amazed the millions with its 250,000 light bulbs. Nobody had seen anything like it. They called it the electronic eden. The new Luna Park is not its first reincarnation. In the 1950s they built high rise apartment buildings on the spot where it burned to the ground and named them Luna Park too. A few of my high school friends lived there.
We plunged in. There are lots of new rides and amusements as well as some old ones. Most importantly the Wonder Wheel continues to turn. What did surprise me was that Spook-A-Rama remains, albeit with a well done facelift and no longer the world’s longest spook ride. (See my post of August 8, 2014: Seduced onto Spook-a-Rama. You’ll have to click “blog“ at the top, then “older posts” at the bottom.)
I wanted to go on the Wonder Wheel straight away but my companions were both scaredy cats. Marilyn absolutely refused, but Jim was softening.
Meanwhile, he and I went on Spook-A-Rama. BANG! through the doors of terrified eyes—and into total darkness until AAAH! a ghost jumped out of a coffin. This startled us and made us laugh at ourselves.
A few more frights, then we were back on Jones Walk. We headed towards Surf Avenue and the best hot dog stand in the world.
Coming up next: Nathan’s Famous
Film clips of the original Luna Park, 1903. It’s so charming.
This is a strangely mesmerizing slow motion, point of view video from the sling shot ride over the new Luna Park.
People dancing around in the new Luna.
In case any of you are jealous of Jim and me for our fright filled ride on Spook-A-Rama, here it is in Robb Alvey’s home movie in real time.