Now there’s a reason to wear sunglasses after dark — in Coney Island, at least!
The neighborhood’s iconic Parachute Jump came back to life in full glittering glory on June 22, as corporate leaders from Central Amusements International — the company behind Luna Park — and Brooklyn pols turned on the tower’s new $2-million lighting system.
Hundreds gathered to watch the 8,000 state-of-the-art diodes come to life, and send pulsing patterns up and down the steel frame structure popularly called “the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.”
Amos Wengler, the poet laureate of the People’s Playground, performed his latest tune, “Coney’s Coming Back,” as the sun sank with kids from P.S. 90.
Finally, Antonio Zamperla, the founder of Central Amusements International, and Borough President Markowitz pulled the switch. The tower shone brilliant red and blue. Markowitz — who has championed the plan to add “bling” to the 74-year-old former ride since 2008 — applauded the realization of his shimmering vision.
“The new-and-improved Parachute Jump will be as in-your-face and definitively Brooklyn as it gets,” the beep said. “The Parachute Jump’s new LED-lit swagger is the perfect meeting of an old-school Brooklyn icon with our trademark attitude.”
But not everyone was cheering. The People’s Coalition of Coney Island — a group claiming that post-Sandy recovery funds have unfairly focused on amusements rather than residents — protested what it perceived as another misallocation of precious funds.
“Where are our priorities?” one demonstrator’s sign demanded, noting the levels of poverty and hurricane devastation in the surrounding neighborhood.
The Parachute Jump debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair, and relocated to Coney’s legendary Steeplechase Park two years later. In its heyday, jumpers would drift to the ground strapped to parachutes held open with metal rings and guided by wires. The tower saw its last leaper in 1965, and became a city landmark in 1988.
In 2006, the city hired designer Leri Schwendinger to install a $1.4 million lighting system that kept the former ride illuminated on summer nights. The city determined it wasn’t bright enough, and shut it off in 2008 for this year’s rewiring.Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderma