With amusement rides shuttered and city beaches set to close after the holiday weekend, some Coney Island businesses fear their uncertain future as the unofficial end of summer arrives.
The concerns of coronavirus linger as masked beachgoers walk the boardwalk and families stay socially distant on the sand. It’s a reflection of a Labor Day weekend on Coney Island unlike any other.
The absence of joyful screams from riders at the iconic Luna Park are felt almost as much as the financial impacts of a quiet beachfront.
“It costs us hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep it and unfortunately we won’t be able to generate one dollar… zero, absolute zero because we aren’t able to open,” says owner Alessandro Zamperla.
Unable to run rides like the Cyclone, an almost century old rollercoaster now halted on its tracks, Zamperla says his more than 100 employees remain furloughed.
“What’s even more challenging is amusement parks are opening in New Jersey and in Connecticut. I have very good team members who are leaving the company to go work,” he says.
New York City beaches are required to close after the Labor Day holiday, while beaches elsewhere in the state and in New Jersey will remain open and staffed through the end of the month.
Boardwalk business had also been down. A manager at Paul’s Daughter says sales have declined 70 percent due to the pandemic.
“Generally we all slow down in September. We got a little kick because schools are going to start late. We will see, it’s just sort of a day-to-day, It’s like sailing, literally you are just waiting and you’ll have to see what the next day is going to bring,” manager Stephen Gaffney says.
Business owners mourn what was supposed to be a busy summer and fear the uncertain future ahead.
“We believe in Coney Island, we believed in it back in 2010 when nobody believed in Coney Island,” Zamperla says. “This is a dream that’s turning into a nightmare.”
Lifeguards will be pulled when the city’s beaches close after Monday, but the boardwalk is expected to stay open until November. That opening keeps hope alive that people will come down and support.