Coney Island is ringing in the holiday season with a festive light display along Mermaid Avenue, which local leaders unveiled at a small ceremony on Dec. 8.
“Bringing the holiday spirit to Mermaid Avenue and seeing the joy it can spread is much needed this year,” said Alexandra Silversmith, the executive director of the local business group the Alliance for Coney Island.
The lights, which stretch from Stillwell Avenue to W. 33rd Street, aim to bring some reprieve to the People’s Playground after the amusement park remained closed all summer because of COVID-19, hurting local businesses.
The Zamperla family, which operates Luna Park, told Brooklyn Paper that the amusement park’s future could be seriously threatened if it doesn’t receive some economic relief.
“The financial situation of our company is extremely in danger,” Alessandro Zamperla told Brooklyn Paper in October.
The owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel — which celebrated its 100th birthday this year — say they paid a hefty price for safety improvements to open safely this summer. But even after indoor amusements such as bowling alleys and museums were allowed to open, Cuomo kept outdoor amusement parks closed.
“The way [the Wheel] was designed and built 102 years ago during the last pandemic, it was designed to be socially distant,” said Dennis Vourderis in September. “The cars are 50 feet apart, the people that ride in each one of the vehicles are with their own group, their own family.”
Though the holiday lights can’t fix the neighborhood’s woes, local officials hope they can bring some joy to downtrodden residents.
“Our community has seen some of the worst effects of COVID-19 and is faced with unprecedented challenges to recover, so these lights provide a semblance of hope and celebration as we look forward to the new year,” said Silversmith.
A handful of local pols and community organizers — including Community Board 13 leaders, District Leader Dionne Brown-Jordan, and Coney Island USA director Dick Zigun — gathered for a small ceremony celebrating the lights’ debut on Dec. 8.
Councilman Mark Treyger, who funded the display, said he hopes the lights will signal a happier 2021.
“While this year’s celebrations will be different, the decorative lights in Coney Island will offer holiday cheer and promise for a brighter new year,” he said in a statement.