Coney Island #3: Were Circus Fans Afraid of Coney?
Last week, Kinetic Carnival noted that attendance at the Cole Bros. Circus in Coney Island was less than had been hoped for. This week, the Brooklyn View fills in more blanks with priceless detail. Like this gem from someone attending the circus:
“Everyone loves Coney Island but after dark it is a different story,” said Anthony Davidson, who sat in the third row with his three-year-old son. “It’s risky to even walk the streets sometimes. You hear gun shots and you’re always afraid to get mugged.”Gunshots? "Always afraid" of getting mugged? On the boardwalk or Surf Avenue? We'll admit to jumping when a balloon in one of those water games pops, but that's about the entirety of the level of personal threat we've ever felt in the heart of the amusement area. Here's the text of the story, which is available only in a PDF:
Due to parking problems, congestion and the reputation of the neighborhood, the Cole Bros. Circus had lackluster attendance numbers during its nighttime performances in Coney Island, according to the circus. For the past several years, the circus set up its tent in Marine Park and filled the seats, but this summer, the circus struggled to fill seats. Not one event sold out in the six consecutive days of production.People didn't go because of "a major parking problem" and "congestion" and a "crime-ridden" environment or had to park "several blocks away"? We're guessing circus fans didn't want to take the subway because they were afraid of being gunned down walking the block from the Stillwell Avenue Station to the circus tent?
Although the ringmaster told crowds the circus was excited to showcase their flying trapeze and Andrey, an acrobat, the company left Coney Island a bit disappointed. “With all the fun and excitement of elephants, lions, balloons and clowns, there was a sea of empty seats throughout several nights,” said Edna Williams, as she clapped for the performers. She sat in the front row during the last performance on August 5.
“This is Coney Island, home to the freaks and the melting pot of the world. We figured we’d fit right in,” said Frank, a circus employee.
Chuck Werner, Cole Bros. senior marketing director, said families did not attend at night because they feared bringing their children to an environment that, while booming during the day, is often crime-ridden at night. Drug dealings, prostitution and violence, while not as prevalent for the past two years, is still reported often to the 60th Precinct. However, due to efforts of the police, the area has become known for a large drop in crime. This has contributed to a spike in tourism and the newly proposed development of a rejuvenated amusement park and resort by the boardwalk.
“The area is improving, the community is starting to work hand in hand with the precinct and that helps us to do our jobs to catch the bad guys,” said Deputy Inspector Robert Johnson, Commander of the Precinct. “Everyone loves Coney Island but after dark it is a different story,” said Anthony Davidson, who sat in the third row with his three-year-old son. “It’s risky to even walk the streets sometimes. You hear gun shots and you’re always afraid to get mugged.”
Thor Equities, which has bought a large portion of the amusement area along the boardwalk, said that they were not surprised to see the multitude of empty seats during the performances. The company focused on just bringing the Circus into the area. The corporation plans to turn the area into a “resort paradise” which would include a retail and entertainment strip with an indoor water park and a 500-room, four-star hotel.
Another reason that contributed to the low attendance according to Cole Bros. senior marketing director Chuck Werner, was a major parking problem in Coney Island. There were thousands of people and very few parking spots. Parking lot owners also charged high prices. Many Circus visitors said that they were forced to park several blocks away...
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