Even if you’re not from New York, you’re probably familiar with the beloved cultural destination that is Coney Island. This Brooklyn neighborhood, known for its amusement area that includes more than fifty rides and attractions, is a New York City icon in and of itself, from which many fantastic arts events and happenings are cultivated.
Many New Yorkers are serious about their much-loved Coney Island and preserving its unique spirit and history. One organization that has spent more than three decades “Defending the honor of American popular culture” is called Coney Island USA, a historical society of sorts that seeks to preserve the offbeat essence of this neighborhood while helping to keep that very culture thriving. According to its Mission Statement, Coney Island USA “exists to defend the honor of American popular culture through innovating exhibitions and performances. Presenting and producing exciting new works, our approach is rooted in mass culture and the traditions of P.T. Barnum, dime museums, burlesque, circus sideshows, vaudeville, and Coney Island itself.” The organization is not afraid of appearing quirky; the very neighborhood it seeks to preserve has been greatly impacted by all things strange and sideshow over the years.
Coney Island USA is focused on upholding the neighborhood’s rich history, while creating a contemporary forum for cultural discourse by promoting everything that the iconic neighborhood represents. Coney Island, in its attractions and spirit, has long existed as a place of entertainment, fun, live performances, art, and entrepreneurship, all of which Coney Island USA hopes to preserve. The organization operates a multi-arts center in the heart of the neighborhood, and puts on annual events and shows that capture the essence of this cultural hub and its history.
Some of its most notable events and efforts in recent history include: maintaining the Coney Island Museum, organizing the Tattoo and Motorcycle Festival, “Burlesque at the Beach,” “Congress of Curious Peoples,” assisting the Coney Island Film Society, as well as producing the wildly popular annual “Mermaid Parade.” These are just some of the many events and programs that Coney Island USA helps make possible each year.
For more information about upcoming events at Coney Island, as well as the group dedicated to “defending its honor,” visit Coney Island USA’s official website.