Coney Island amusement park reopens after Sandy

March 24, 2013 3:21:19 PM PDT
In another sign of recovery from Superstorm Sandy, Coney Island's amusement park reopened to visitors on Sunday.

And just like the famed Cyclone rollercoaster, it's been a wild ride to get everything up and running.

Just five months ago, the amusement park was buried in sand.

The electrical systems of iconic rides were destroyed. Sandy flooded the electrical equipment of Deno's Wonder Wheel, at a cost of about $1 million.

But from the Jersey Shore to Coney Island, legendary beachside amusement parks are beating the odds and reopening for the season on schedule.

"I think the message is that we're resilient. We're resilient New Yorkers and Sandy isn't going to keep us down", said Johanna Zaki of the Alliance for Coney Island.

It took almost five months of hard work and millions of dollars, but soon the wooden planks of the famous Cyclone will rumble, and the smell of Nathan's Famous hot dogs will fill the air, signs of the start of summer on Coney Island, but a celebration of so much more.

"It's our way of saying New York made it through Sandy, now let's have a good time," said Dennis Vourderis, whose family has owned rides on Coney Island for decades.

And what would a day on Coney Island be without a hot dog eating contest?

On Sunday, a qualifying match was held for the big contest on July 4th.

And while some New Yorkers prayed in churches, the folks on Coney Island had their amusement rides blessed for the season on Sunday.

Valerio Ferrari, president of the company that operates Luna Park, says the beachfront community has been "to hell and back."

On Sunday morning, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz helped open the attractions with the 29th annual blessing of the rides.

The Cyclone Rollercoaster got an "egg cream christening."