The iconic Parachute Jump in Coney Island got a holiday makeover Tuesday; for the first time, the Brooklyn landmark took on colors of the holidays. NY1's Gene Apodaca filed the following report.
Kids from the Mark Twain Middle School Choir helped usher in a new tradition in Coney Island on Tuesday.
For the first time, the famed Parachute Jump was lit up in holiday colors.
Diana Colon, who lives just blocks from the landmark, brought her granddaughter to experience the sight. "My hairs are standing on end!" said Colon.
The lighting was arranged by the Alliance for Coney Island, a not-for-profit that is dedicated to the revitalization of the neighborhood. Its executive director, Alexandra Silversmith, said the iconic structure is a key component of Coney Island's identity.
"We call it Brooklyn's Eiffel tower, and now it's lit like the Eiffel Tower," Silversmith said.
But the landmark wasn't born in Brooklyn. It was actually built for the 1939 New York World's Fair in Queens. Back then, the 170-ton, 250-foot-tall structure was a working ride.
"It used to have people sort of diving off of it like as though you were diving off an airplane," said Silversmith.
The ride was eventually moved to Steeplechase Park in 1941, attracting half-a-million riders to Coney Island annually. However, in 1964 it ceased operating when the park shut down for good.
In 1989, New York recognized it as a city landmark. But it wasn't until decades later — when then-Borough President Marty Markowitz ordered 8,000 lights to be installed on the structure at a cost of $2 million — did it take on its iconic look.
"It's really bright, it lights up the whole night. Like, you can see in daytime and nighttime," said Lisson Tchistiakov, who attended the lighting ceremony.
Three years ago, the ride began lighting up for New Year's Eve, rivaling the ball drop in Time's Square. Now, the show comes a little earlier.
The Jump won't just be lit for Christmas Eve and Christmas; new patterns will be displayed during Hanukkah and the days leading up to New Year's Eve.
For residents in Coney Island, it is a tradition many are happy to experience.
"It definitely gets me in the spirit to be jolly and happy for the holidays," said Sophia Borrello, who attended the lighting ceremony.