Talk about a blast from the past!
A new documentary premiering at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island on Aug. 9 will celebrate the triumphant return of the Astroland Rocket to its rightful place in the People’s Playground earlier this year.
“The Rocket Has Landed,” a 20-minute film by the Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, details the rocket’s dark and dangerous voyage home from Staten Island, where it was being stored outside old Navy buildings after the Astroland amusement park closed down in 2009.
“It was the last flight of the rocket, flying back from Staten Island,” said Denson, who has made two other films about Coney Island and is already working on his fourth.
Astroland’s former owners donated the rocket to the city a year after the park closed down, with the agreement that the city would continue the its upkeep. But the spacey sculpture — which went underwater and was struck by a boat during Hurricane Sandy — was in critical condition after years of neglect. In such a run-down state, Denson wasn’t sure the rocket would make it back in one piece, so the hair-raising relocation was staged at night just in case it didn’t.
“We were trying to keep the whole project secret in case anything went wrong,” he said.
The screening is part of the park’s annual History Day celebration, which will this year feature a host of other space-age spectacles, including a DJ spinning far-out ’60s tunes, free MoonPies, and a planetarium-themed light show inside the recently restored rocket itself.
Coney Island’s History Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (3059 Denos Vourderis Pl. near Surf Avenue in Coney Island) and the Coney Island History Project [3059 W. 12th St. near the Boardwalk in Coney Island, (718) 372–2592 www.coneyislandhistory.org]. Aug. 9 at 1 pm. Free.