whee.jpg

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade was today. If you missed it, there's a chance for you to still get in on an historic boardwalk event this week. The Cyclone Roller Coaster is celebrating its 80th birthday this Tuesday. WNBC profiles Gerry Menditto, who's been looking after the Cyclone for decades, along with a look at the roller coaster itself. The Cyclone still uses the same 100 horsepower motor it used when it opened in 1927.

Menditto has been servicing the Cyclone since 1975, when a two-week stint as an electrician at the boardwalk turned into a near-lifetime in charge of the roller coaster. He says that the sign encouraging riders to secure their valuables is frequently ignored, and has a box full of items like false teeth, passports, and cellphones that they've found at the foot of the wooden timbers that make up the ride.

After 33 years looking after the well-being of the Cyclone and its riders, how many times has Menditto ridden the Coney Island Coaster? Zero. He doesn't like the drops.

(Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, by kerfuffle & zeitgeist at flickr)