This year’s Coney Island History Day will celebrate immigrants
The contributions that immigrants have made to Coney Island will be the centerpiece of a special celebration of the neighborhood’s history on Aug. 11.
The Eighth Annual Coney Island History Day will take place at two spots: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, located between Bowery Street and the boardwalk, and the Coney Island History Project at 3059 West 12th St.
The festivities will run from 2 to 6 p.m.
The event will feature performances by Russian ballet dancers, a Haitian drummer, a Mexican mariachi band, a Chinese folk dance troupe and Italian opera singers. The performances will take place at the Dreamland Plaza Stage at 3 p.m. following an opening ceremony at 2 p.m.
The festivities will be hosted by Deno John Vourderis, of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and Charles Denson, co-founder and executive director of the Coney Island History Project, a non-profit group that works to preserve the community’s history.
In addition to enjoying the music and dance performances, visitors will have the chance to share their fondest memories of Coney Island by talking about their experiences in the History Project’s Oral Archive History booth.
Coney Island has always serve as a melting pot in New York, according to Denson, who said Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is a perfect illustration of the gifts and talents that immigrants have brought to the area over the past 120 years.
“The Wonder Wheel was saved by a Greek immigrant,” he told this newspaper.
The Wonder Wheel was built in 1920. Deno D. Vourderis, who was born the same year as the ride was built, came to the U.S. from Greece at the age of 14. “He was one of 22 children,” Denson said. Vourderis purchased the Wonder Wheel in 1983 as a present for his wife.
Vourderis decided to revitalize the old ride and then built a park around it containing other rides for children and families to enjoy.
In 1989, the Wonder Wheel was designated as New York City landmark. The street outside the park was named in Vourderis’ honor in 2001.
For more information on Coney Island History Day, visit: www.coneyislandhistory.org.
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