Sitt not on it — Joe’s Coney ‘Festival’ suffers setback

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In an embarrassing setback, Coney Island’s would-be savior, developer Joe Sitt, has postponed the highly publicized grand opening of rides, freak shows and vendors this weekend.

Sitt’s “Festival by the Sea” has been hyped for months and will still open this weekend in Coney Island, but only half of the 25 rides will be on hand at the West 10th Street and Surf Avenue site. Sitt’s bazaar of food, crafts and knickknack vendors will be nearby, but they will be exposed to the elements because of a tent mishap.

“There’s still going to be a lot going on,” said Loren Riegelhaupt, a Sitt spokesman.

Coney Island visitors can expect the full monty by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the summer season, Riegelhaupt added.

But Sitt’s company, Thor Equities, has not succeeded in past summers with temporary rides and attractions to fill vacant lots in the company’s portfolio of 10-1/2 acres in the historic People’s Playground. Last year, Sitt’s self-described “The Summer of Hope” turned into the summer of nope when carnies packed up and departed early.

This summer’s rough start is just a fluke, affirmed Riegelhaupt.

“We’re very committed to Coney. We’ve invested a tremendous amount of time, energy and money in the festival, and we think it’s going to be great,” he said.

Sitt says he wants to build a modern Xanadu of rides, hotels and shopping in the rundown amusement area, but his plans have been blocked by Mayor Bloomberg’s own proposal to buy Sitt’s acreage and build a new amusement park between the Cyclone roller coaster and Keyspan Park.

Private developers would be able to build hotels and other tourist attractions in the vicinity, under the mayor’s rezoning plan, which is nearing final approval in the city’s land-use review process.

Sitt’s detractors crowed upon hearing that the “Festival by the Sea” had been blown off course.

“Amusements aren’t his industry,” said Dianna Carlin, the founder of the Lola Staar boutique, referring to Sitt’s background as a shopping-mall developer. “He obviously doesn’t have the necessary experience in the amusement business.”

Carlin’s shop was a Boardwalk tenant of Sitt, but he did not renew her lease because of her history of criticizing him. She’s relocated to the Stillwell Avenue subway station and plans to reopen on Memorial Day weekend.

But in Coney Island, the success of one merchant in the business helps everyone, so Carlin didn’t laugh long.

“I hope he succeeds, because Coney Island needs more amusements,” she said.

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Reader Feedback

David from Coney Island says:
Half of the rides are open? I checked this morning and not one ride is open. Your reporter can go to the former site of Astroland and see for himself.Sitt knows nothing of rides, amusements or hotels. Everything he has touched in C.I. has failed. It is ironic that he refers to Coney Island as "rundown" since his actions (evictions,etc)have are largely the cause.
May 14, 2009, 2:04 pm
G Kelbert from Gainesville Fla. says:
Word is that poor ol Sitt was PUNKED! Some carnival guys told him they were bringing over a whole bunch of rides with no real ambition of showing up.
May 15, 2009, 5:15 am
Ace from New Utrecht says:
Coney Island "opened" 04/05/09.
May 15, 2009, 1:11 pm
me-myself-i from cney island says:
Yeah, Joe Sitt screwed up again. The grand opening of Thor Equities Festival by the Sea (flea market) had to be postponed because the huge tents are the wrong tents. DOB requires tenting material that will withstand hurricane force winds, so yesterday workmen removed all the tent tops & sidewalls.

As for the 25 rides Thor promised to bring to "Dreamland" (the former Astroland property), which they are now telling the media will be 12 rides open is a lot of bull sitt. At the moment there are only 2 rides sitting on the "Dreamland"property and both are on trailers unassembled. I think what Sitt means is they have 12 attractions, which are sideshows and games.

There is plenty to see and do in Coney Island this weekend in Coney Island, please come out and patronize the longtime amusement operators like the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno's Wonder Wheel and amusement park with 25 rides plus arcades and games, Eldorado Skooters and arcade, Jones Walk games, Coey ISland Arcade, The Coney Island Sideshow, the Coney Island Museum, The Polar Express ride and 12th St Amusements and much much more...
May 15, 2009, 1:17 pm
Joey Bots says:
What - what a sad charade!!
May 15, 2009, 4:06 pm
FleaMareketNews says:
Festival By The Sea has postponed its grand opening until next Friday, May 22.

May 15, 2009, 6:25 pm
Rob Blatt from Bed Stuy says:
It's a shame that so much has been going wrong in Coney Island lately. The only company that seems to doing things right is Coney Island USA, the people who operate the museum, the Freak Bar, the Mermaid Parade and Sideshows by the Seashore.

There's a spirit in that area of Brooklyn that is infectious, but for some reason these larger companies can't seem to get it together long enough to allow NYC to see it.
May 17, 2009, 9:47 am
WhorEquities from Brooklyn says:
It's not our fault that the rides didn't show up or open. They assumed that we at Whor Equities were legitimate businesspeople. They didn't realize that we're liars and thieves, and that we're intent on raping Coney Island.

Getting rid of Astroland was great. I look forward to demolishing Nathan's and burning down Deno's. We also enjoy when animals at the Aquarium die, especially the cute ones.
May 19, 2009, 3:26 pm
Phil from Chicago-Westside says:
The new John Strong Side-show is awsome.
Real two- headed animals wow
There is a future in Coney Island
May 25, 2009, 9:09 pm

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