‘Freak’ out! Evicted shooting gallery is bulldozed in Coney

‘Freak’ out! Evicted shooting gallery is bulldozed in Coney
Photo by Paul Martinka

What the freak?

The landlord who evicted the Shoot the Freak booth and seven other businesses on the Coney Island Boardwalk last month ransacked the paintball attraction overnight on Dec. 22, boarding up the main entrance and jacking paintball equipment, memorabilia and other props.

“They came like thieves in the night,” said booth owner Anthony Berlingieri. “Those little sneaks emptied out the place and there is nothing left, except for the Shoot the Freak sign.”

Central Amusement International — which has a 10-year lease to not only run a theme park, but fulfill a city plan to revive the entire amusement area — gave the eight businesses the boot on Nov. 1.

Berlingieri’s booth typically closes for the season, but it’s no surprise that Central Amusement cleared his land so quickly, as the company claims it is on a tight deadline to bring in new attractions and concessionaires before the summer season begins.

Central Amusement’s office was closed this week, so the company could not be reached for comment. The company will not only add more rides this summer, but new eateries on the Boardwalk where Shoot the Freak, Ruby’s Bar, Cha Cha’s and five other businesses operated.

Berlingieri and his fellow business owners will be in court early next year to challenge the evictions.

Ruby’s is planning another protest on New Year’s Day — though given what happened to Berlingieri, it’s not clear if the bar’s stuff will even be there.

Here's Berligieri during (slightly) happier times.
Photo by Paul Martinka