Andy Badalamenti, 60, fought for classic Coney Island rides

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Andy Badalamenti, a beloved Coney Island carny who once lived in an apartment built into the Thunderbolt roller coaster and who fought to save the neighborhood’s historic ride’s, died last Monday after a long battle with cancer.

Badalamenti, 60, was for years the caretaker of the Playland Arcade, the Shore Theater, and rides that stood on Surf Avenue between W. 15th Street and Kensington Walk, where he earned a reputation as a fierce preservationist who battled to save Coney’s honky-tonk charm.

That determination was never clearer then the day in 1977 he stood atop a smoldering Tornado roller coaster at the corner of Stillwell Avenue and the Bowery, which had burned the day before, and screamed “We’re going to fix it!”

But the Tornado was eventually torn down — as was the Thunderbolt, where Badalamenti lived in a ground-floor apartment that served as the inspiration for a scene from Woody Allen’s masterpiece, “Annie Hall.”

That ride, which had been out of service for over a decade, was knocked down by the city under the cover of darkness prior to the opening of the minor league baseball stadium next door because it was decrepit and it marred the views from the stadium.

Badalamenti protested former Guiliani’s demolition of the ride in 2000 — and later on a lawsuit arguing that the destruction had been illegal.

“Never in my years in Coney Island have I met someone with genuine and sincere love just for Coney Island and the rides,” said Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney. “Andy had a lot of fun, a lot of adversity, but never once gave up his love affair in Coney Island.”

Badalamenti started his carney career as the D.J. and operator for the now-defunct W. 12th Street Himalaya, a ride that spun in circles while lights flashed and music blast.

Badalamenti went on to operate the Tornado and Bobsled, also on Stillwell at the Bowery.

Later, he took a job caring for police horses at the Brighton Beach stables.

Many friends wrote tributes to Badalamenti on

“We shared many Coney Island moments together,” wrote Charles Denson on the Coney Island History Project website. “He was a good friend for many years and a main character in my books. He left us too soon, but his legacy will live on.”

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018: An earlier online version of this story failed to credit Tricia Vita of Amusing the Zillion, an indispensible website at
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: