Coney Island Cyclone Celebrates 90 Years

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coast opened 90 years ago Monday — and it’s been a shore staple ever since.

“Happy 90th birthday, and you don’t look a day over 21,” joked state Assemblywoman Pamela Harris, D-Brooklyn.

So what’s an appropriate gift for a 90-year-old roller coaster?

A party, of course. Complete with a ceremony, a cake and a proclamation from the city declaring it Coney Island Cyclone Day.

Built in 1927, the Cyclone is one of the oldest roller coasters in the United States.

The New York City landmark has been featured in books and movies, and in 1991 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“You can’t be a real New Yorker if you’ve never ridden the Cyclone,” said state Sen. Diane Savino, D-Brooklyn/Staten Island.

Few people know the ride better than Richard Rodriguez. In 1977, the Bay Ridge native set a world record for the most consecutive hours spent on a roller coaster — he spent 104 hours on the Cyclone.

“There are a lot of bigger coasters, faster coasters, but this is the greatest, and it’s on the top of my list because it has a great legacy,” he said. “It’s a classic woody, a classic wooden coaster.”

Rodriguez said the Cyclone hasn’t lost its charm, so CBS2’s Elise Finch decided to give it a try. With rodriguez by her side, she took her first Cylone ride — and it didn’t disappoint.

In honor of its 90th birthday, for 90 minutes it only cost 90 cents to ride the Cyclone, instead of the normal $10. That price and the occassion was too much for many people to pass up.

“I’m glad I didn’t eat because I felt my stomach jumping, but it was a lot of fun,” Ellen Bunin, of Park Slope. “I’m glad I did it. It’s one thing off my bucket list.”

More than $5-million has been spent renovating the Cyclone’s wooden track. Operators say the ride is actually smoother and faster than it was when it debuted in 1927.

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