“How about making some noise for opening the beach?” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said from the podium, as brightly dressed protesters standing behind a police line chanted, “Thor no more! Thor no more!”
So began another politically charged season at Coney Island under appropriately gloomy skies on Thursday morning.
“I was so glad to see the folks from Save Coney Island come out to support me,” joked local Councilman Domenic Recchia, an ally of much-maligned Thor Equities developer Joe Sitt and, thus, the recipient of some loud boos and shouts of “You suck!” from the placard-wielding demonstrators.
Mr. Recchia has taken some heat lately for his role in brokering a controversial compromise between the developer and the city on plans to revamp and rezone the ancient seaside amusement district.
amNY reported Thursday that, under the new deal, the city would sacrifice the iconic Deno’s Wonder Wheel, an otherwise protected city landmark, in exchange for turning nine acres of the carnival area into parkland. The city originally envisioned a 15-acre park.
“SIZE DOES MATTER,” read one protester’s sign. “Don’t SHRINK the AMUSEMENT District.”
The developer Mr. Sitt, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz were all no-shows.
Protesters included merchant-activist Dianna Carlin, Brooklyn burlesque queen Angie Pontani, Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun, historian Charlie Denson, and, of course, the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping.
“We are here representing the not necessarily completely commercialized part of Coney Island’s soul,” the reverend preached, “the creative, freaky part of each of us that needs to be built up at this time because we’re being hemmed in at all sides by the demon monoculture that’s trying to privatize our souls, and we say, ‘Nooooooo! Carnival stalls! Not mega-malls!’”