If you've ever queued up for a spin on Coney Island's landmark Wonder Wheel, you may have noticed that one of the cars is really going to the dogs. Well, one dog, at least: Sunny, a 12-year-old Rottweiler who guards the property by night and rides in car number four by day. Amos Crowley, who has worked at Deno's Wonder Wheel for the past 10 years, tells the Daily News, "Some people think it's funny, some people think it's cruel, but the dog thinks otherwise. We don't do it to be funny; we do it because she likes it. It's tradition. It's been going on for years and years."
The previous owner, who sold it to in 1983, used to keep his dog in the car, and when Denos Vourderis took over, he kept the tradition alive with his guard dogs. Sunny is the third in the line since '83, and his high-flying cage doesn't come cheap; a full Ferris wheel car holds six people, who each pay $6 to ride. Dennis Vourderis says, "That's $36 every five minutes if you're running at full capacity. But it's something that we have to continue. It's like an old fisherman who goes to the same spot. We have our way of doing things. It's our tradition; it's not about dollars and cents."
Speaking of dollars and cents, the ongoing saga of the Coney Island amusement district hit yet another snag yesterday when the City Council postponed a vote on whether to approve the city's proposed rezoning. The current plan would would designate part of the area as parkland to create a new 27-acre indoor-outdoor amusement district and encourage the development of towers up to 27 stories tall, expand retail spaces, and add 4,500 new housing units (800 of which would be built to be affordable units). But yesterday Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island) said, "I will kill this plan if my constituents are not taken care of."
Various groups are opposed to the rezoning for various reasons, but Recchia's beef is that he wants the city to fund an expansion of the emergency room at Coney Island Hospital and guarantee that construction jobs will pay union wages. The City Council Land Use Committee is expected to vote today, and the Brooklyn Eagle reports a rumor that they'll "approve the plan with amendments," which means it must go back to the City Planning Commission for another review prior to a final City Council vote on July 29th.
For more on why other opponents think the rezoning plan is seriously flawed, watch this great fun video below from unofficial Coney Island mayor Dick Zigun: