In Time for Chol Hamoed: Bloomberg Unveils New Scary Rides in Coney Island


coney-islandNYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as a crowd witnessed on Wednesday, is apparently not one for screaming. On a day so foggy that the boardwalk’s towering Ferris wheel seemed to brush the clouds, Mr. Bloomberg traveled to Coney Island to help open the Scream Zone, a new amusement park that will feature four “thrill” rides.

“Nothing says summer like Coney Island, I think it’s fair to say,” Mr. Bloomberg said, speaking as the sun began to peek out and the sky turned a pearly blue. “And this week may have gotten off to a damp and gloomy start, but the fact is we are here ready to open four new spine-tingling rides at America’s greatest seaside destination. And the fact that we are ready to do that means that sunny days are ahead for New York City.”

Scream Zone will operate alongside Luna Park, the amusement park that opened last year and helped draw 450,000 people to Coney Island, according to the city. It also boasts two roller coasters – the first major coasters since the terrifyingly rickety Cyclone opened in 1927.

“If you have thrill-seeking friends or loud neighbors, send them down to Scream Zone,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It is the one place in the city where you can scream all you want, and nobody will call 311 to complain. Or if they do, let me say we won’t pay a lot of attention to it.”

Mr. Bloomberg himself does not seem to be much of a roller-coaster aficionado. He said he might have ridden one as a boy at Revere Beach in his home state of Massachusetts, but that he had no “great recollections of it.”

But that didn’t stop Antonio Zamperla, a well-known designer and manufacturer of amusement park rides, from trying to rally the crowd.

“It is now time to scream!” Mr. Zamperla said. “C’mon, where is the scream? Are you ready?”

Everybody cheered, while Mr. Bloomberg opened his mouth – but no words seemed to come out. “Great,” he half-quipped, half-stated as the applause died down.

The mayor seemed to relish more in the idea of others twisting their stomachs into Nathan’s pretzel-size knots.

“We have a special announcement today,” he said when he took the small podium. “The members of the press have volunteered to go on all of the rides, but no seat belts.”

And when he introduced Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, the mayor joked that Mr. Markowitz had volunteered to go on every single ride when the Scream Zone was ready.

“I said yes,” Mr. Markowitz said. “I will go on that sling-shot ride right over there, provided that the mayor ponies up thousands of hundred-dollar bills, high up, so that it will soften my fall. I don’t see a buck out there, mayor!”

Finally, it was time to scream. The mayor made his way over to the Sling Shot – a large blue and yellow orblike contraption that shoots riders 150 feet into the air at 90 miles per hour – and began counting down.

“Get ready, they’re going up,” Mr. Bloomberg said, looking skyward. “0, 1, 2, 3.”

With that, he flipped a large black switch to the up position and, after a brief pause, the orb shot into the air.

Many screams and a few minutes later, the two riders were back on earth, with nothing but praise for the ride.

“I felt like I could do it again, any day, anywhere,” said Najee Jenkins, a 12-year-old from Staten Island, as he hopped off of the Sling Shot. “I didn’t eat anything today. I didn’t dare.”

But Mr. Bloomberg wasn’t interested in doing a test run of his own.

“I don’t have time today,” the mayor said, with a sly grin. “Unfortunately, I have pressing city business.”

{The New York Times/ Newscenter}


  1. Ahh! What a Kiddush Hashem! On Yom Tov! Ahh what Nachas the Borie Olam has! Bloomberg & Markowitz enjoying their Simchas Yom Tov! Me keamcha Yirsroel!