In a highly symbolic moment for the forever-on-the-verge-of-collapse Coney Island amusement park, the legendary Cyclone roller coaster froze during the ascent of its very first ride of the season on Sunday. Riders were forced to climb down the coaster on foot, in what was probably a more exciting turn of events than another ride on the old coaster.
The 88-year-old coaster was making its first run of the 2015 season when it got stuck near the top before the drop, scaring passengers and becoming an image of the endless trials and tribulations of Coney Island.
No one was injured and everyone made it down safely thanks to park staff, who climbed up and helped the stranded passengers down.
“Unfortunately these things happen,” Luna Park manager Angie Morris told NBC, “but we’re going to get it up and running in a couple more hours.” Test runs of the roller coaster had gone without a hitch, but still the coaster locked itself up on its first public run.
The Cyclone is the most iconic symbol of the bygone glory of Coney Island’s seaside resorts, which peaked in popularity in the first half of the 20th century and then went through a long period of decline and neglect. The boardwalk area has experienced some revitalization since the 1990s, but has also been threatened by development and obsolescence when compared to more modern amusements parks like Six Flags.
Coney Island was one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, but has made an impressive recovery. That recovery, however, does not prevent the Cyclone from breaking down on its first run of the season, yet another disappointment in Coney Island’s woebegone underdog history.