After Ringling snub, Coney gets another circus operator

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Who needs Ringling Brothers? A new circus is coming to Coney!

Vidbel Circus, a one-ring extravaganza featuring trapeze artists, jugglers and equestrians, will run from July 4 through Labor Day in a lot near the Boardwalk on Stillwell Avenue.

Shows will be held five days a week, making Vidbel a fitting replacement for the so-called “Greatest Show on Earth,” which folded up its tent after just two summers in the People’s Playground.

The one-year deal for Vidbel was first reported by the blog, Amusing the Zillion.

“I grew up in New York so it’s great to be performing in Coney Island,” said trapeze artist Susan Vidbel-Ashton, a third-generation circus performer whose grandfather Alfred Vidbel founded Vidbel Circus in 1984.

Like Ringling Bros., Vidbel will have a variety of kitschy acts, including magicians, clowns and jugglers. Highlights include a bareback equestrian who somersaults from one horse to the next, and an archery expert who shoots an apple off his wife’s head.

Show times and prices have not been determined, but tickets will likely be around $10 — the cost of a Ringling Bros. ducat — according to Ashton-Vidbel. The tent will hold 600 people, far smaller than the 2,300-seat big top that Ringling Bros. brought to Coney.

Central Amusement International, the Italian-based outfit that also runs Scream Zone and Luna Park, operates Vidbel’s Coney Island site. The company is leasing seven acres from the city to fulfill Mayor Bloomberg’s long-term revitalization plan, and its deal with Vidbel is another step in transforming the once-neglected area into a year-round tourist destination.

“It’s great to have a circus coming in and fill up an empty lot,” said Charles Denson, who runs the Coney Island History Project at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

The Vidbel Circus’s debut will be a high point in the emotional roller coaster that is Coney Island: Ringling Bros. first ditched its site on W. 21st Street near Surf Avenue in March, but Borough President Markowitz’s Summer Concert Series will take over the space.

On the negative side, the beloved Siren Music Festival abandoned Coney for West Brooklyn, but that devastating move has been somewhat mitigated by new attractions like Scream Zone.

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Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
coney island is a wasteland..who would take their family there? the politicians had 50 years to fix the place up...they fixed it up with a housing project near the beach...
June 7, 2011, 5:54 am
Ken from Brooklyn says:
Coney Island is ever-changing, growing and improving; has been for 30 years...Ringling was an important part of Coney's modern times...and now the Vidbel circus can add to the legacy.
June 7, 2011, 9:05 am
Susan from Sunset Park says:
Coney Island needs modern indoor rides like they do in Universal Studios in Orlando!!!!
June 7, 2011, 8 pm
Cam from Brooklyn says:
Coney needs more retail and entertainment open year round. Jobs, jobs, jobs!
June 8, 2011, 8:55 am

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