PHOTOS | Coney Island amusement parks open with annual ‘blessing of the rides,’ proposal and more

opening day of coney island amusement parks
The People’s Playground is officially open for spring following the blessing of the rides and the ceremonial ribbon cutting on March 24.
Photo by Erica Price

Coney Island’s iconic amusement parks reopened for the 2024 season with the annual blessing of the rides, which attracted hundreds of thrill-seekers to the People’s Playground on Sunday for their chance to take one of the first rides of the year.

Palm Sunday’s storied “Blessing of the Rides” ceremony kicked off on the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk right outside of Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, where community leaders and elected officials gathered for the joyous occasion of opening to visitors for the spring.

people riding on cyclone for luna park opening day
Luna Park president Alessandro Zamperla and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso aboard the Cyclone on opening day. Photo by Erica Price
couple at the cyclone
Ben Schleider built up the courage to ride the cyclone and propose to his partner, Dena Greenbaum on Sunday. Photo by Erica Price

“In Brooklyn, we don’t care about groundhogs, they don’t tell us when spring starts,” Borough President Antonio Reynoso told Sunday’s crowd. “In Brooklyn, we got to Coney Island and when the Wonder Wheel starts spinning, we know spring has started.”

Despite the chilly weather, crowds flocked to see Reynoso christen the landmark 97-year-old Cyclone roller coaster with a ceremonial bottle of egg cream, while Deno’s Wonder Wheel offered the first 104 revelers lined-up a free inaugural spin on the park’s namesake ferris wheel to celebrate the ride’s 104th birthday.

Deno's Wonder Wheel in Coney Island
The iconic Wonder Wheel. Photo by Erica Price

The first 97 riders of the Cyclone also got to ride for free and received a complimentary egg cream from the Brooklyn Seltzer Boys. All of the amusement district’s rides will be open on weekends until Memorial Day, then seven days per week through Labor Day.

Considered a landmark in its own right, the 15-story Wonder Wheel may soon be officially designated a historic site, according to state Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton who announced Sunday that the amusement has officially been nominated for inclusion in the New York State Historical Preservation registry.

parks seen from wonder wheel
Coney Island, as seen from the Wonder Wheel. Photo by Erica Price

Council Member Justin Brannan, who was elected last April to represent Coney Island following redistricting, said it was an honor to be part of the festivities and promised to make the People’s Playground “even stronger” not just during the summer, but all year round.

It was a chilly opening day, but everyone came prepared, even the pups. Photo by Erica Price
cyclone roller coaster
Brave Brooklynites took the first ride on the Cyclone of the season. Photo by Erica Price

“Some people go to Bermuda, some people go to Turks and Caicos, I go to Coney Island every summer,” said Brannan. “There are people who dream about coming to Coney Island, just for one day, just to see what we can see every single day in our backyard. That’s how special this is.”