Thousands of antique car lovers flocked to the People’s Playground earlier this month for the Alliance for Coney Island’s inaugural classic car show — one of many events planned to promote the peninsula’s participation in the city’s Open Streets program.
On Saturday, July 9, the Alliance closed off West 12th Street and Surf Avenue and lined the streets with more than 70 old school automobiles provided by the Antique Automobile Association of Brooklyn. Visitors roamed the amusement district, take pictures with the cars and vote on their favorite one.
Car lovers were eager to see the display, and some even traveled from as far as Westchester County for the car show.
“The turn out was really good. There were a lot of people throughout the course of the day. We’re guessing it was at least 2,000 [attendees,]” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island. “We basically closed that street off and as soon as we had the cars showing up, we had a ton of people showing up really just enjoying walking down that street, taking photos of the cars, looking at all the different details on the cars.”
The idea evolved from an autumn car show hosted by Coney Island USA a few years back, Silversmith said, but organizers felt the show would be better suited for the summer. Antique Automobile Association on board, the Alliance partnered with Coney Island USA to pull off a fun July exposition.
“Saturday’s event brought an array of classic cars to the Amusement District and we loved seeing families enjoying the event and experiencing Coney Island in a new way,” Silversmith said. “We thank the Antique Automobile Association of Brooklyn for their partnership on this event and are excited to collaborate with NYC DOT to utilize this space for public programming.”
The car show doubled as a showcase of Coney’s participation in the Department of Transportation’s Open Streets program. The initiative debuted just over two years ago, closing certain city streets to through traffic to open up more space for socially-distanced socialization and programming during the first wave of the pandemic.
Open Streets are mostly run by volunteers and sponsoring organizations, like the Alliance for Coney Island, who are responsible for maintaining the streets and providing public programming. The dead end at West 12th Street and Surf Avenue is closed every Saturday afternoon, while other open streets close during school days to give students a space to roam outside and others are closed all weekend or even during weekdays.
According to the Alliance, the car show was one of many exciting events coming to West 12th’s Open Street. The next family-friendly showcase will take place on July 12 at 1 p.m. with help from the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, followed by an all-ages silent disco on Aug. 6 at 1 p.m.
In the meantime, Coney’s business-boosting group is looking forward to keeping the car show going — and growing.
“We’re gonna see if it’s something that can be expanded upon because we had a lot of interests for even more cars to come but the street is only so big,” said Silversmith. “So we’ll see what we can come up with to have a larger space.”