A ‘Coney Island’ person
By Mark Medina
I grew up in Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island back then was the place to go. We didn’t really have too much money, so Coney Island was the one place we would go to and have fun on a budget. Me and my cousins would hang out under the Boardwalk, and I couldn’t wait to reach the height requirement to ride the Cyclone. The first drop never gets old and you either gotta sit in the front, put your hands up and see that drop coming or sit in the back and get the whiplash. It’s a known fact that the middle cars are for lame-o’s! I’m not a Jersey Shore person, I’m not a Hamptons person, I’m a Coney Island person. It’s like my backyard and I’ve seen it all — its demise, its pick up — and I want to be a part of where it’s going now.
Mark Medina is a recently retired firefighter who appears in the 2008 FDNY calendar.
Photo by Alan “Battman” Batt
Coney Island is looking for its first-ever Mr. Cyclone — so as a public service, we’re going to turn over our newspaper’s most-precious real-estate, its Op-Ed page, to give six would-be coaster kings the space to show off their talents (as told to our eminently talented scribe, Jared Foretek). Take it away, boys.
The Brooklyn Paper file / Gregory P. Mango
To vote for your own favorite contestants, go to the Cyclone Web site. The top seven finalists will compete on Aug. 7 on W. 10th Street off Surf Avenue to find out who the true Mr. Cyclone is.
Status is irrelevant
By Erik Knapp
I’ve been promoting the Cyclone and Coney Island since the birth of my daughter in 1993. From 2005 to 2009, I was the first in line to get tickets, so for the fifth anniversary, I got a tattoo of me on the roller coaster, so I’m a front-runner for Mr. Cyclone. I’ve been riding since I was 7, growing up in Bensonhurst. But when I really got involved, I started noticing the decline — the rides disappearing. So I started asking, “What’s goin’ on here?” When Astroland closed, I thought we’d see condominiums and co-ops like Brighton Beach, but, thankfully, that’s not happening. What I love about Coney Island is that anyone can come out and enjoy it. It’s a place where status doesn’t mean anything. You can be the custodian at a public school or you can be the president of a bank, we all come out and enjoy Coney Island.
Erik Knapp works for the Postal Service’s vehicle-maintenance division. He also plays in a rock band that performs on the Boardwalk.
Mornings in Coney
By Paolo Buffagni
Even though I’m from Italy, I feel like I’m a very Brooklyn person. I’ve spent my last four years living in Sunset Park and working as a waiter in Manhattan, but I still make time in the mornings to take the train out to Coney Island and go for a swim. I love to swim, I love the ocean, and I love the amusement park. I rode the Cyclone about 20 times last year. I was there to sing when they opened the new park and meeting Ms. Cyclone really opened my eyes to this opportunity, so it’d be like the cherry on top of the cake to be Mr. Cyclone.
Paolo Buffagni, a native of Modena, Italy, is also an opera singer.
The ‘girl test’
By Peter Amo
I want to be Mr. Cyclone because I have a strong connection to the area. Coney Island’s always been a big part of me. Growing up as a teen, it’s where we’d always take girls or meet girls. I used to take girls on the Cyclone as a date to test their toughness. Either they’d be tough enough to ride it, which I liked, or they’d need to hold on to me really tight, so it was a win-win! But being there with my parents are the memories that stick in my head. They took me here since I was a baby. I live in the area now and I represent Brooklyn, so I want to give this community a strong voice as Mr. Cyclone. The Cyclone represents a certain spirit and that spirit got lost for a little bit but I want to help bring it back.
Peter Amo is a rapper and all-around urban artist. He recently wrote the song “Fight for your Right to Save Coney.”
Hooked during hookie
By Robby Corrado
I first rode the Cyclone when I was 7-years-old. I would play hookie on my birthday with my dad, and we’d go to Coney Island. Every year that passes, the area gets more special to me, and the Cyclone’s the biggest part of that. It’s an icon, but it’s not flashy. It’s just something that’ll scare the s— outta you every time. So my candidacy is more about what I’d be willing to do as Mr. Cyclone. I devoted myself to saving the roller coaster when the development plans were coming out. My Twitter feed is @savethecyclone and I have a tattoo of it on the back of my arm. I want to spread the message about the Cyclone from a young person’s perspective.
Robby Corrado lives in Park Slope and works in public relations.
Ride it for life
By Noah Price
I grew up in Brooklyn and my parents lived in Park Slope, so they used to take me out to the beach and all the rides. I recently returned the favor when I took my mom out there for Mother’s Day. We saw the Aquarium — she’s too old to ride the Cyclone now, but I did — and we had a really nice time. We ate hot dogs, saw the sideshows, and she told me about how the area looked when she was young. I used to work at the Aquarium, so I always rode it growing up. Basically, I summer in Coney Island rather than the Hamptons. I really like the area and want to be a part of keeping it going, so I’m always repping it and trying to get more and more people to come down.
Noah Price is a computer technician, but also a “jack of all trades” who does odd-jobs. He lives in Ditmas Park.
Photo by Tom Martinez