City leaders and Coney Island stalwarts converged on Gargiulo’s Restaurant on Dec. 13 to drink — and eat — to a new, post-Sandy Coney Island.
The new Alliance for Coney Island business group — which includes Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones, Luna Park, and Gargiulo’s itself — launched formally with a big bash at the century-old Italian eatery on W. 15th Street. The attendees included political bigs Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, and Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island), along with major business players like Wonder Wheel owner and Alliance chairman Dennis Vourderis and Gargiulo’s co-owner Nino Russo — and even smaller People’s Playground luminaries like unofficial Coney mayor Dick Zigun, Boardwalk boutique favorite Lola Star, and Coney Island History Project founder Charles Denson.
And, of course, no Coney Island event would be complete without freaks — and this one was no different, as sideshow performers Adam Realman and Kryssy Kocktail wowed the crowd with displays of sword-swallowing and fire-eating.
The theme for the night’s many speeches was a renewed Coney raising its head above the waters and sand from the October hurricane and over decades of urban blight and decay.
“Gargiulo’s is open for business — just like the rest of Coney Island will be soon,” declared Vourderis, who served as master of ceremonies.
Markowitz took his time to praise the Sanitation Department, Coney Island Economic Development Corporation president Nate Bliss, the Community Board 13 members in attendance, and Boardwalk newcomer Tom’s Restaurant for their contributions to the recovery.
“Coney Island, I want to thank you,” the Beep said. “This was rough and tough, but put a smile on, ’cause we’re going forwards.”