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Coney Island Cyclone Reopens After Insurance Snags

July 10, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ One minute and 50 seconds of sheer terror was too much for Mayor Edward I. Koch.

He and Parks Commissioner Henry Stern were willing to pull the switch Thursday to reopen Coney Island’s renowned Cyclone roller coaster, which had been grounded by insurance snags, but they wouldn’t take a spin.

″The last time I rode this Cyclone I was about 8 and the next day I was 18,″ said Koch.

Deputy Mayor Robert Esnard took the first ride as Koch’s representative. Disappointed onlookers shouted, ″Come on Ed, show them what you’ve got.″

The 59-year-old Cyclone, usually open from Easter to Labor Day, had been closed this year because the ride’s operators couldn’t obtain $5 million of insurance coverage requested by the city’s Concession Review Board, according to Gary Zarr, a Parks Department spokesman. However, a law recently passed in the state Legislature effectively limited the city’s liability, paving the way for the ride to reopen with its usual $1 million policy, he said.

″The Cyclone is to Coney Island what the Statue of Liberty is to New York Harbor,″ said Jerome Albert, president of Astroland, which has operated the ride on city land for 11 years.

″Brooklyn lost the Dodgers, but thanks to the mayor and his fine administration we’re not going to lose the Cyclone,″ said Albert.

Raymond Sosa, 33, of Brooklyn, was anxiously waiting to tackle the Cyclone’s 3,000 feet of climbs, dips and curves, including a 85-foot, 60- degree drop.

″Anyone who says they’re not afraid of that ride is lying,″ he said. ″It’s the ultimate experience.″

Nearby, 9-year-old Carmelo Failla, of Bensonhurst, was less excited by the prospect. ″I’m not going to go on it - never,″ he said.

But as the crowd’s excitement mounted, he said, ″Maybe if my father’s brave enough to take me I’ll go.″

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