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Ringling Brothers coming to Coney: sources

After just two seasons in Coney Island, Ringling Bros. says it will not return this summer.
Heinz Kluetmeier

The world-famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Barnum circus will deliver a shot in the arm to the flagging “People’s Playground” by setting up its big top in Coney Island this summer, two sources told The Brooklyn Paper last Thursday.

The city is brokering a deal for a long, hot summer of lion tamers, clowns and the daring young men on the flying trapeze at a site west of the existing, though battered, amusement area — possibly on a West 22nd Street lot owned by Taconic Investments, the sources said.

Ringling Brothers officials would not confirm the amazing, stupendous news.

“It would be premature to comment on plans for any new markets that are not finalized,” said Steve Payne, a vice president for Feld Entertainment, which produces the venerable three-ring circus.

The arrival of the so-called “Greatest Show on Earth” is likely to brighten a summer forecast for Coney Island that had been looking gloomy. The faded amusement area is down to one theme park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel, after Astroland closed last September.

“Any time that someone wants to bring a circus to Coney Island is a good time, absolutely,’ said Dick Zigun, the founder of the incomparable Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

It is unclear how many of the honky-tonk shops and bars will reopen on the Boardwalk. The area’s main landowner, Thor Equities, is still negotiating rent increases with many of the stores, though they have promised to book attractions for vacant lots this summer, such as a possible flea market on Stillwell Avenue.

“I don’t like Thor’s long-term intentions for Coney Island, but I welcome them to put up tents and bring attractions here for the summer,” Zigun said, who has been critical of Thor’s $2-billion plans for hotels, shopping and rides in Coney Island.

The city has been under increasing pressure to show that there will be life in Coney Island this summer amid criticism that the mayor’s own revitalization plan for the faded amusement zone isn’t moving fast enough.

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