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I-Report: Your photos, memories of Coney Island

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(CNN) -- The quirky seaside expanse of Coney Island, which draws visitors from throughout the U.S. seeking out its colorful rides and freaky entertainers, may soon be losing one of its key attractions.


Chuck Geller of New Jersey sent this photo of the Mermaid Parade, an offbeat Coney Island tradition.

Astroland Amusement Park could be open for one of its last summers, said Carol Albert, who owns and operates the park along with her husband. The land underneath the park has been sold to a new developer, but Albert said she hopes to keep Astroland open for another year.

The lease is currently set to expire January 30, and Astroland closes for the season on Sunday, September 9.

"We're not going to go out with a bang. We're just closing for the season on Sunday and keeping our hopes up that the lease will get extended," Albert said.

Astroland is an imposing presence along Coney Island's famed boardwalk, marked by its distinctive rocket sign and the Astrotower rising from its center. Nearby, the rickety-looking arcs of the Cyclone roller coaster peek out from behind a chain-linked fence. Photo See I-Reporters' photos of Coney Island »

The Cyclone is protected on the National Register of Historic Places and cannot be closed. Albert said she would continue to operate the coaster.

The new developers have hinted that a revamped entertainment complex could go in Astroland's place, but the future for the land is uncertain.

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Some people are happy that changes may be taking place at Coney Island. Dick Zigun, producer of Sideshows by the Seashore, told CNN he would welcome something modern and exciting.

"If they're going to build a 21st-century amusement park with steel looping roller coasters, then oh boy, I'm in favor of that," he said.

Albert said she originally sold the property because much of the land around it had already been sold for redevelopment and she didn't think the park could stay in business with construction around it. She had hoped to move the park to a new location on Coney Island, but found she could not afford to do so. Instead, she hopes to keep the park open for another year to preserve activity on the boardwalk while zoning issues for the space are worked out.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, a separate attraction near Astroland, would not be closed along with Astroland. See a map of attractions and landmarks »

Questions about Astroland's future prompted to ask readers to share their photos and memories of Coney Island.

Readers responded with many stories of taking a train into this quirky district to grab a hot dog and spend a day checking out the kiddie rides, fright houses and carnival games.

Many recalled living near an area considered by some to be a garish tourist attraction. Cassandra Silverman of The Colony, Texas, grew up at Coney Island. She remembers playing on the beach as a child. Listen to Silverman describe her childhood on Coney Island »

Her great-grandparents moved to Seagate, a residential community on the western side of Coney Island, after leaving Romania. Her family then continued the tradition of living in the Coney Island area. Silverman's grandfather was a vaudeville entertainer who performed ventriloquist acts, and her grandmother was a burlesque dancer.

Finally, when Silverman was 17, she moved away with her mom. She says life on Coney Island seemed normal at the time, but she can hardly imagine raising her children there now that she lives in Texas. Still, she looks fondly on the time spent at the beach and at the amusement parks, and finds it difficult to imagine Coney Island without Astroland.

"If they take Astroland away, [Coney Island] won't be the same," Silverman said. "I won't have a reason to go back but to visit my family."

Al Slavin of Sunrise, Florida, photographed Coney Island when he lived in the area in the 1980s. He said he feels the area has declined somewhat, and hopes that rebuilding can take place in a sensible manner that takes moderate incomes into account. Fifty years of living in the area gave him countless memories of good times.

"Nathan's is great, and you can go play on the roller coaster," Slavin said, later adding, "It's like a great playland and you can really, really enjoy yourself in that kind of atmosphere."

Quite a few area residents said they were transfixed by the idea of Coney Island in winter. One such person is Renee Cole, who captured a stark image of amusement rides' skeletons silhouetted in black and white.


New Yorker Joseph Cassar captured striking black-and-white stills in February 2005, making a return after decades.

"I had not been back since I was a kid and that was about 40 years ago," Cassar wrote. "The fog made it look like a dream. It was somewhat recognizable. Down the boardwalk I saw the Parachute ride. As a kid I was too scared to go on it, but my sister did. Now here it was naked without any floppy cloth parachutes or dangling guide wires. In the fog it looked like a giant steel flower without petals. It was good to see something from the past still standing, regardless of its state of undress." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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