Coney Island’s “Summer of Hope” has gone from sizzler to fizzler.
Although developer Joe Sitt promised new rides and attractions through Labor Day, one ride operator and the petting zoo have already pulled out — and now several more of the 11 operators off Stillwell Avenue signaled they are looking for sunnier pastures.
Sitt says his company’s efforts to boost Coney Island with a so-called “Summer of Hope” of new rides and amusements have been hobbled by wet weather, especially on the weekends — but others saw darker clouds.
“It shows that Thor Equities is not an amusement operator,” said Dick Zigun, founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow who initially applauded Sitt for trying to bring more rides to the run-down pleasure zone. Now Zigun said the musical chairs act “shows a lack of experience in quality amusements.”
Some of Sitt’s other critics said the “Summer of Hope” was slated to fail — if only because many people think Coney Island is already dead, what with all the news coverage focusing on Sitt and the city’s competing plans to “save” the fabled “People’s Playground.”
Both Sitt and Mayor Bloomberg envision a gleaming, year-round destination with a new theme park and entertainment options like bowling alleys, arcades and movies theaters, as well as hotels and restaurants, though the developer and Hizzoner are far apart on the details.
Meanwhile at Coney Island itself, life, amusements and freak-shooting go on as they have for years.
“Last year, we had this false sense of urgency because there was this expectation that it was the last season,” said Dianna Carlin, owner of the Lola Staar boutique and Dreamland roller rink.
Despite the ride operators’ pullout, Thor Equities has vowed to find replacements. And company spokesman Stefan Friedman even put a positive spin on the summer doldrums, saying that being at the mercy of weather is proof that indoor entertainment options should be a priority for city planners.
“All of the operators have indeed faced challenges due to the inclement weather, pointing out just how desperately we need year-round amusements that can withstand the elements in order for Coney to truly thrive,” Friedman said.