NEW YORK, STATE OF NEW YORK, UNITED STATESAUGUST 25, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV
1. Pan left from Coney Island boardwalk to shuttered Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park2. Pull focus from Wonder Wheel to fence in foreground3. Mid shot Dennis Vourderis, co-owner of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, walking in shut-down park
4. SOUNDBITE 1 - Dennis Vourderis, co-owner of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (male, English, 16 sec): "This is the first year, the first time in 100 years of the Wonder Wheel's existence here in Coney Island, since the day it opened, that it has not carried passengers, that it has not spun with passengers. So, as you can imagine, it's quite a historic season for us, in that not only is it devastating financially, but it's also devastating emotionally on the family."
5. Cutaway: Pan left poster about 100th anniversary of the Wonder Wheel, reading "opening date... still to be determined"
6. SOUNDBITE 2 - Dennis Vourderis, co-owner of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (male, English, 21 sec): "It's a tough and challenging year for everybody, but what makes ours exceptionally challenging is that we're only a seasonal business and that we make our living in 100 short days so to speak, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. And so, to be able to recoup those losses will be impossible."
7. Cutaway: Pan left Coney Island boardwalk and amusement park 8. Cutaway: Pan left rides from amusement park
9. Cutaway: Wide shot Ruby's Bar and Grill restaurant on the boardwalk, next to Lola Star's boutique
10. SOUNDBITE 3 - Michael Sarrel, owner of Ruby's Bar and Grill, a restaurant present on the boardwalk since 1934 (male, English, 11 sec): "Our business is way off. We are probably off about 80% from what we would normally be. A lot of people are afraid to come out because of the coronavirus. A lot of people are not allowed to travel because of the coronavirus. So people that might want to come, they're not coming. The rides are closed, the aquarium is closed, the baseball stadium is closed, the beach is much less packed than it normally would be."
11. Cutaway: Pan left social distancing sign next to palm tree fountain on the beach
12. SOUNDBITE 4 - Michael Sarrel, owner of Ruby's Bar and Grill, a restaurant present on the boardwalk since 1934 (male, English, 15 sec): "We just signed a new lease and got an extraordinary rent increase that this season our business will not sustain. Due to that problem, there is a chance that we might decide just to pack it in. We haven't really decided yet, but it's possible."
13. Cutaway: Pan left from old photos towards client paying inside Ruby's Bar and Grill restaurant
14. Cutaway: Close-up storefront of Lola Star's boutique
15. SOUNDBITE 5 - Lola Star (real name Dianna Carlin), artist, designer and owner of a clothes store on the boardwalk (female, English, 17 sec): "Coney Island is the people's playground. It's a place where no matter how much money you have, what your race is, you can come to Coney Island and have an incredible day. And that should never change. But I'm worried that when rents rise, prices are going to rise and it's not going to become an affordable place anymore. And it's just going to be one person's vision. So I'm worried that it will no longer be the people's playground. It'll become a rich person's playground instead of the people's playground."
16. Cutaway: Pan left customers walking into Lola Star's boutique, with shirt designed by Lola Star on the left
17. Cutaway: Close-up lock on fence
///-----------------------------------------------------------AFP TEXT STORY:
FOCUSEnd of the ride? Virus imperils 'people's playground' of New York By Peter HUTCHISON
ATTENTION - Pictures by Angela Weiss. Video by Diane Desobeau ///New York, Aug 27, 2020 (AFP) - Summers in Coney Island usually ring with the sound of excited screams from roller coasters, playful shouts from bumper cars and children's laughter from spinning teacups.But the coronavirus pandemic has silenced the famous New York boardwalk, causing one of the most difficult periods in its 150-year history and sparking fears for its future."It's horrible, it's depressing," said Dennis Vourderis, sitting amid the shuttered rides of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, which he co-owns with his brother.2020 was supposed to be a big year for Deno's, with the park celebrating the 100th anniversary of its best-known attraction -- the 150-foot (45-meter) high Wonder Wheel.But the Covid-19 lockdown and the absence of foreign tourists have made this the first summer since its opening in 1920 that the Ferris wheel hasn't turned, ending a run that survived even World War II.The Vourderis brothers have had to put on hold an expansion plan after they spent $12 million on adjacent land and a new ride."Normally, our revenues are several million dollars. This year it's zero. We've had some sleepless nights for sure," Vourderis, 61, told AFP.Nearby on the boardwalk -- on the southwestern tip of Brooklyn -- is Ruby's Bar and Grill, a restaurant that has served holidaymakers since 1934."Our business is off 75 percent from what it would normally be," said owner Michael Sarrel.
- 'People's playground' -
"We won't be able to make enough money to pay the rent this season. In fact we've given some strong consideration to possibly selling the business," he added.Coney Island first became an amusement district in the 1880s; New Yorkers sometimes call it "the people's playground."In a normal year, around seven million people flock to its beach and boardwalk, taking a twirl on its cheap, old-fashioned fairground rides or snacking on fluffy pink cotton candy."It's every type of person you could possibly imagine mixing seamlessly together and celebrating life," said Lola Star, who owns a boutique clothing store on the boardwalk."It's so magical and so important to the city."The coronavirus crisis comes at a precarious time for Star, real name Dianna Carlin, who is locked in a dispute with her landlord over a rent hike.Star feels she is the victim of attempts to gentrify the area, and she fears the pandemic could sound the death knell for her 20-year-old shop."It has been the most difficult episode of my life. I'm struggling to keep my business afloat," she told AFP.After suffering years of neglect and decline between the 1970s and 1990s, Coney Island has been revitalized since the turn of the century.But the cleanup has also sparked a fight for the soul of the quirky area, with several small family-owned businesses disappearing as high-end chains move in.In 2009, the administration of then-mayor Michael Bloomberg bought seven acres (three hectares) of the downtrodden district from a developer who wanted to evict tenants and build Las Vegas-style resorts and luxury apartments.The city leased the land to Zamperla, an Italian amusement rides manufacturer, allowing it to open the Luna Park amusement zone and set rents for Lola Star's boutique and a handful of other businesses.
- Gentrification -
Star claims Zamperla is trying to hike her rent by 500 percent.Company president Alessandro Zamperla claims the increase is "nowhere near" that but told AFP that her previous rate was "significantly below market value."A New York City spokesman told AFP the government was "working with partners" in Coney Island on ways to "maintain its charm."But businesses say they haven't received enough help to survive the coronavirus. Government payroll protection loans barely covered a few weeks of expenses, Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island, told AFP.Coney Island has survived crises in the past, most notably Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which gutted shops and destroyed rides, covering them in sand.But amusement park owners say coronavirus has been more difficult, with the financial devastation compounded by the psychological trauma of not knowing when businesses will be allowed to reopen.They fear coronavirus will wipe out their whole April-to-October season.Other sectors of New York, where Covid-19 has killed 23,000 people, have reopened as the city works to bring the virus under control.But maintaining social distance on a roller coaster or a teacup ride is difficult. Back at Deno's, staff have used their down time to freshly paint their rides, and Vourderis is trying to stay positive. "We'll just have to celebrate the wheel's 100th anniversary next year," he said.pdh/bbk