Frontline workers have essential day of fun

April 12, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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“The People’s Playground” has people once again.

Coney Island’s amusement parks, which were closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened April 9.

“It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 18 months since the wheel has spun or we’ve heard the screams of laughter on the Cyclone, but we are back,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island. “Being able to usher in this moment of recovery after the last 13 months of the pandemic and celebrate the 100th season of the iconic Wonder Wheel with so many is a true honor.”

“After 521 days, it’s opening day,” said Alessandro Zamperla of Luna Park. “It’s a very emotional day. It’s been very tough for all of us.”

A hundred frontline workers were invited to join the festivities and ride the famous attractions.

Pat Roman, senior associate director for patient relations at NYC Health + Hospitals Coney Island, rode the Wonder Wheel and Spook-a-Rama at Deno’s Park.

“As a healthcare worker who has seen so much over the course of the last 14 months, it was great to be able to be in the most amazing playground of the world where I grew up and work,” Roman said. “I was able to share this day with my peers who have worked so hard to keep Brooklyn healthy.”

Dennis Vouderis, owner of Deno’s, saluted the frontline workers and said, “Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a proclamation designating April 9, 2021 as Deno’s Wonder Wheel Day in New York City.

Pat Roman of Coney Island Hospital with Nino Russo, co-owner of Gargiulo’s.

Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said a part of Brooklyn had been restored.

“More than just symbolic, this opening will have real positive benefits for our small business economy,” Peers said. “Positive benefits for tourism. Jobs returning for our people. The support couldn’t have been more robust. Even the chill in the air couldn’t contain the enthusiasm.”

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