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Coney Island's Cyclone Turns 80

This week the famed Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island turned 80. The Cyclone is a throwback, all wood and steel, and for nearly 45 years after it was built, it was the fastest roller coaster in the world. It's since been surpassed by more modern coasters, but what it lacks in technology it makes up for with personality. (In other words, this thing is rickety enough to put fear into anyone.) Coney Island celebrated the only way it knows how: With an event that was part boardwalk charm, part freak show spectacle, and all heart. They originally wanted to run the Cyclone full of people who rode it in its inaugural year, meaning people who'd have to be at least 87 or so by now, but they found no takers. Then they wanted to fill it with 80-year-olds, but they could only find three. Then one got cold feet, and they were down to two. But as proud members of a group called American Coaster Enthusiasts, those two men were up to the task. The BPP sent Luke Burbank, Win Rosenfeld, Dan Pashman, and a video camera out to Coney Island to cover the event, and to take a spin on the Cyclone themselves. Click on the video above to check it out.

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Love it! Hahahaah!

Sent by Stephen | 6:41 PM | 6-28-2007

Having chipped my two front teeth at the giant slide at Steeplechase in '57, I smiled as wide as can be upon seeing the bit on the Cyclone - which I survived unscathed! Happy 80th!

Sent by Andy Forrest | 3:53 AM | 7-1-2007

I am not sure what the show is offering that isn't already being offered by other WNYC programming. These are stories that are covered by The Brian Lehrer Show, The Leonard Lopate Show as well as Morning Edition. This show also has a similar feel of Slate Magazine. Why not broadcast Talk of the Nation on WNYC?

Sent by Kimberly | 12:33 PM | 7-1-2007

great segment! were there any other competitors in the miss cyclone contest?

Sent by Tom | 12:56 PM | 7-1-2007

I so love coney island, grew up going to see my grandmother there every weekend. Bumper cars, carousel's, wonder wheel, nathan's fries, life does not get much better than that

Sent by fred | 10:34 PM | 7-1-2007

I've been living in Texas since I retired from the Air Force 20 years ago. But there are no greater memories I have than being brought to Coney Island by my Mother when I was just 5 and 6 years old in the 50's. Going back as a teenager in the 60's, and looking forward to returning this July. And Im almost 60!!

Sent by John Timms | 12:08 AM | 7-2-2007

I had ride the roller coaster with my boyfreind and it was fun and i love the roller coaster in coney island is the best.

Sent by brenda | 2:26 PM | 7-16-2007

I knew Lou Picarillo, one of the 80-somethings who rode, most of my life--only then he was riding a backhoe or a dozer with my Dad in construction! Lou is just as fun and funloving ever! Keep it up!! You'd never get ME onto one of those things!!!!

Sent by Deb Byrne | 9:35 AM | 8-10-2007

I was lucky two weeks ago to visit NYC on a family road trip and I am said to see such a wanderful park faid away..

Sent by Christopher Grant | 8:39 PM | 9-9-2007

Ha! Just looking way way back to the early days of the show. I really hope this stuff stays "on-line until the end of time" cos I'm still laughing.

Sent by Dan M. | 3:59 PM | 7-14-2008

I just flew to New York last weekend
July 18-2008 to ride the cyclone on a mission..wait a min, i dont like rides im from Texas and dont even go to six-flags so being the baby i am, i sucked it up and rode the cyclone...what a rush ..yeaaaaaaaaaaah!!.. Im a whimp that ride was so fun, scary, and yes its old its nostalgia its suppose to be rough ride...if you want a smooth departure ....go to six flags....
the coaster creaks like old bones...im sorry anyone got injured but i have to wonder how they took the ride, and perhaps didnt take caution...i say DO IT!
signed 51 yr old female wiennie

Sent by irene torre | 12:21 PM | 7-21-2008