Summer is still more than two months away, but Coney Island is getting a head start on the season. The neighborhood's amusement parks officially opened Sunday with the annual blessing of the rides, and the traditional egg-cream christening of the Cyclone. The 85-year-old roller coaster was one of several rides to get a makeover.
A small crowd waited for hours to be among the first 100 people to ride the famous attraction and got their thrills for free.
"Coney Island is the mother of all amusement parks in America. It was the original and still the best. Everyone else follows Coney Island," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
"It's just a nostalgic thing, my family have been coming down here since I was a child, born and raised here on Coney Island. It's just a big thrill that this ride that is 85 years old is still here. It's amazing," said one thrill seeker.
Crews replaced 280-feet of track over the winter, and park owners say that makes for a smoother and faster ride.
Meanwhile, the Wonder Wheel is also taking on a modern spin this season.
Sunday saw most of rides at Coney Island in full swing, including those at another famous staple, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, which held it's 34th annual Blessing of the Rides. As is their tradition, they welcomed 300 children from Coney Island's Sea and Salt Mission which provides thousands of free meals a month to local kids. They too got to ride for free, including the latest attractions at the family-owned amusement park. As for the Wonder Wheel itself, the swinging cars will once again light up, but this time they will be solar powered.
Debuting later this season are new go-kart rides and a trapeze that will swing out over the boardwalk.
Now that it's been officially blessed, the park will be open every weekend until Memorial Day. After that it will welcome crowds daily all summer long.
For more information on visiting Coney Island, visit coneyislandfunguide.com.