Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
People are flocking to Coney Island this year in numbers not seen for almost half a century.
The big draw is the area's newest attraction, Luna Park. According to city officials, the amusement park attracted more than 400,000 visitors this summer, and they took 1.7 million rides. Valerio Ferrari is president of Central Amusement International, which operates Luna Park. He's optimistic about the future, and says the park is extending its run through Halloween.
"We look forward to finishing the 2010 season on a high note this fall," Ferrari says, "and continue our goal of helping to revitalize the American Playground to many years to come."
Dennis Vouderis co-owns Deno's Wonder Wheel the Ferris wheel and kiddie park. He agrees the newness of Luna Park, combined with the warm weather, increased his sales.
"My family has been here for 40 years and its probably one of the best summers dollar-wise that we've seen since our 40 year history," he says.
Not everyone has seen business improve. At Cha Cha's on the boardwalk, manager and bartender Rick Cimato says he's actually seen his sales drop.
"The amount of money I made last year was way more compared to what I'm making this year," Cimato says. "The people aren't coming into the bar, its not as crowded last year, not as busy. If they're coming to the park, they're not spending money here."
Cha Cha's and many other older businesses along the boardwalk face an uncertain future. Diana Carlin owns the Lola Star boutique, one of nearly a dozen businesses that are waiting to see if their leases will be renewed.
"I'm not even really like nervous or worried because I'm so used to this indecision and not knowing what's going to happen next year," Carlin says. "I think this is like my sixth last season in Coney island."
Carlin and others have submitted plans to the owners of Luna Park showing how they will update and improve their operations. They'll find out if by the end of the year if their leases will be renewed.