Watching the fireworks at Coney Island. They have them on Friday nights in the summer, and they start around 9pm. One time, my girlfriend and I were standing on the beach, and the fireworks take off from a barge that’s floating in the ocean. So we were on the boardwalk watching, it was so close. The fireworks are just like Macy’s fireworks – they’re huge! And every time a shell goes up, there’s a muffled boom, and you see the trail of the shell going up into the dark summer sky. There’s a slight reflection because the boardwalk is slightly higher than the beach, so if you look on the water, you see the reflection of the trail of it going up. When it explodes, you hear Oooh’s and Aaah’s from the crowd. During the finale, they set off many, many shells at one time. They also have these explosive fireworks as well that repercussion in your chest because it’s so close.
But this one time, the fireman on the actual beach were running up onto the boardwalk and motioning and screaming, “Everybody back, back, Everybody back!” because the wind that normally blows the fragments of fireworks out into the ocean, this time there were very strong gale force winds that were blowing towards the shore. So you saw embers going into your hair and onto your clothing. And that was also scary and exhilarating. We were running back, and they were continuing to scream “Back! Further, further, back, now, now, now!” They were pushing their arms in the air, motioning. So we turned around and ran away as fast as we could! Because the embers were hot. This was during the finale, which was usually about a minute. It takes time because the explosive fragments are really small, like snow. It takes time for the embers to drift down from the heights. Even though there were no more shells exploding, you still had a cascade of small bits of burning metal. You could feel it, of course you smelled it, saw it, and you heard it – the only thing was you couldn’t taste it.
It’s a whole experience because none of the rides stop for the occasion. Everything is going on as normal, and there are some parts of Coney Island, where if you stand, I guess it’s toward the Aquarium section, you can kind of see the F train and the D train coming in on the elevated tracks. You always think of the subway as being underneath, sub, like submarine, underneath. But actually, many parts of the subway in the outer boroughs are above ground, elevated. Years ago, on 3rd Avenue, on 6th Avenue, and also on 9th Avenue in Manhattan, the subways were above ground. So there was a lot of crime underneath the tracks because even in day light they were cast in dark shadows. They created a lot of noise – you know, metal on metal. The subways in other cities are sometimes on rubber wheels, but in New York, steel wheels on steel tracks. If you clanging and clinging all day and all night, through 3rd Avenue, 6th Avenue, and 9th Avenue, it’s not only crime-ridden, but it’s disruptive for schools, churches and business. If you want to see it, what I’m talking about, if you have an old copy of King Kong, which is shown on television during Thanksgiving, you can see King Kong taking a subway off the tracks, opening the doors and eating the people! You can ask people who lived in Manhattan during that time, like I did, what their childhood was like. In the 1950’s when they tore down the subways, clinging and clanging all the time – all that ironwork!