I enjoyed my annual adventure to New York City this summer, and in search of something new to do, I took the train to Coney Island.  It was a blast; well worth the hour ride, even late at night.

Though I didn’t really plan to stay for fireworks, it was a fine finale for a fun-filled day.

Upon arrival at the original Nathan’s, I met a local man who literally wrote the book on Coney Island.  After collecting mementos, experiences and stories for decades, this enthusiastic entrepreneur captured the essence and evolution of his favorite place by establishing a foundation, a museum, and a written tribute to this timeless place.

What a treat it was having my own personal tour guide; walking and talking about his experiences growing up in this unique environment.

He proudly showed me his museum;  quite a blast from the past.  Most prominent is the Cyclops;  an original icon of Coney Island’s Sppok A Rama ride, complete with water marks on his teeth, reminiscent of the five feet of flood waters brought by  hurricane Sandy a few short years ago.

A unique combination of fun and sick humor, George C. Tilyou imagineered his ‘Insanitorium’  at Steeple Chase park with the intent of breaking down inhibitions.  The original Steeplechase ride resembled a primitive hybrid of a roller coaster and a merry go round which individuals rode with no safety restraints, simulating the horse racing experience.

Upon exiting the ride, unsuspecting guests were paddled across stage by a costumed clown so as women walked over a blowhole their skirts blew up.   They were then seated in the audience to watch others ushered through the same embarrassment.

Around the same era, Dr. Martin Coney invented the original baby incubator, prompting people to travel to the park and pay to view what was known as a baby hatchery.

I rode the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, which took me high above the crowd to see the sunset from the sky.  I rode it again at dusk as the park took flight with lights illuminating the entire beach and boardwalk area.

Of course I ate a hotdog, but the lobster roll at Paul’s Daughters was the bomb.   Beyond the boardwalk dining experience, meeting the man who has run this business for nearly five decades was endearing.    His eyes sparkled and his heart sang as he shared stories of his happy history here.

Had I been on my own, I am sure my impressions would be dramatically different.  How powerful it was to experience Coney Island through the eyes of others who have experienced its evolution.  ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ but you can read all about it in Charles Denson’s book:   Coney Island Lost and Found.   It is a different world than where I come from, for sure, and that is what makes it so much fun.

What is your next adventure?

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