Entitled First Sprouts Dante and Chiara DeBlasio are set for more self-importance when they don crowns, take up scepters, and plunk their royal keisters on a floating throne as king and queen of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
The siblings “will hold the highest position of honor” in the June 21 jaunt, said event organizers at Coney Island USA, humoring Mayor DeBlasio’s “tale of two cities” yarn in which nepotism is clearly King Neptune. Why else would they give the tall honors to a pair whose successes amount to sporting a ’fro seen around the world, and dramatizing teen depression and substance abuse issues for pop’s political gain?
Coney Island USA’s bootlicking — well, isn’t it? — who would be worth it, if Mayor DeBlasio reciprocated the favor and restored the Boardwalk to its all-wood glory in what would be a small price to pay to see his offspring crowned king and queen in front of adoring masses. Dante and Chiara should get on dad’s case, right away, because the Boardwalk is a living legend that is dying.
Any seaside town worth its weight in soft, white sand should have a solid and appealing wooden walkway, but our stumbling block is nothing to write home about. Yet, the great footpath, also known as the Riegelmann Boardwalk, was not always a rotting carcass. It was functional and easy on the eye and foot, accommodating the overflow of travelers from the new BMT subway line that brought in a tidal wave of seasonal visitors who crammed the beach, after Brooklyn Borough President Edward Riegelmann commissioned its construction in the early 1900s as part of a $3-million beach improvement project.
Its engineering plan was colossal: 1.7 million cubic yards of sand expanded the beach to the size of nearly 8,000 football fields; 120,000 tons of stone and 7,700 cubic yards of concrete were poured to reinforce it; and 3.6 million feet — longer than Hong Kong International Airport Terminal — of smooth wood, including long-leaf yellow pine for the floor covering, was laid to beautify it.
The 80-foot-wide Boardwalk, nicknamed “Coney Island’s Fifth Avenue,” held court from 14 feet above the beach and yawned from West 37th Street to Ocean Parkway when it opened to an eager public on May 15, 1923 — just two years after breaking ground. By 1938, then-New York Parks Commissioner Robert Moses had placed the beach and the Boardwalk under his agency’s care, given it a $3 million makeover, and extended it to Brighton Beach.
These days visitors continue to flock to the sickly behemoth, but how long can a ghost keep up the allure?
Coney Island USA should have invited Councilmen Chaim Deutsch (D–Brighton Beach) and Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) to lead the festive trek for their royal efforts in demanding that the city dispense with its concrete bandages and wood-up the Boardwalk.
But the damage is done. So, go on, Dante and Chiara, hound dad to fix up the wooden warrior once and for all. Then the DeBlasios can truly have an accomplishment to parade about. In the meantime, be sure not to trip on a jutting nail or wobbly plank on June 21.