New York

Inspired by Coney Island

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Happy holiday weekend, everyone!

So yesterday, in honor of the Fourth of July, I had the great pleasure of hitting up Coney Island with my fiance and a good friend. It felt like the right kind of thing to do on Independence Day.

I’ve been to Coney Island a couple of times before, but there was something about seeing such a diverse group of people, locals and tourists and folks from all over the world, just have a good time on a holiday. And the thing about Coney Island that is hard not to love as a writer, is there are just so many stories here.

There’s the history first off, the fact that you can literally ride a ferris wheel built in 1918. Then there’s the fact that for me, I know my grandparents used to come here to go to the beach in the 1940s, as likely many people’s grandparents did and do. There’s Nathan’s and the hot dog eating contest and all the men and women who look far too skinny to be able to pack down sixty hot dogs in ten minutes. There’s the famous “Sideshows by the Seashore,” which over the years has been home to more stories than any novelist would need in a lifetime. And beyond that, there are the characters. While in line for the Thunderbolt, my friend and I met an official member of ACE, which stands for American Coaster Enthusiasts, a middle-aged woman who spoke about roller coasters like a sommelier discussing fine wine. At the Sideshow, we saw a brother-and-sister team breathe fire and swallow swords. Taking a break on the beach, we saw countless families tossing beach balls and building sandcastles and trying to keep their kids from running off too far.

Coney Island is like a nostalgic dream. It’s one of those kinds of places they always show on TV but never actually feels real until you’re there. It’s all the things that make you feel wild and silly and like a kid again–greasy food and scary roller coasters and a boardwalk that is enough in and of itself to entertain you for hours. Like New York, it is a mishmash of stories, and though I’ll probably never set a novel there, it’s one of the many reasons why I love living in this city.

Here are some more snaps from our day:

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The famed “Face of Steeplechase.”

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Nathan’s already counting down to the next hot dog eating competition.

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Fourth of July wouldn’t have been complete without some greasy grub.

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My friend and I all strapped in for the scream-inducing Thunderbolt coaster. IMG_4480

(That’s us after the first drop.)

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Bikers and strollers on the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

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Pointing the way to Deno’s Wonder Wheel.

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A particularly patriotic swingset.

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Bathers packed onto the beach, as seen from the Wonder Wheel.

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A view of the city from the Wheel.

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The boardwalk from the beach.

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Finally got to see the famous Sideshow!

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