Visitors to Coney Island on July Fourth got their thrills after all: The classic Cyclone roller coaster and 150-foot-tall Wonder Wheel reopened Thursday after a leaning tower threatened to ruin the holiday weekend.
City buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said work dismantling the top section of the swaying Astrotower has made the structure safe enough for visitors to return to the iconic Brooklyn beachfront community for the holiday weekend.
"Right now, it is completely safe," LiMandri said Thursday. "We're very excited we can join in July Fourth." He said workers were to continue dismantling portions of the tower for a few more days in off-peak hours.
Luna Park off the famed boardwalk roared to life when the gates opened about 3 p.m., with rides operating at full tilt.
Nick Phillips, 24, of Oakland, N.J., was among the first group of people to ride the Cyclone. "It was awesome," he said. "It was great riding the Cyclone on the Fourth of July."
Others, even if they weren't riding the coaster, were equally elated. Michelle Brown, 21, of the Bronx, was walking around trying to decide what to ride. "I'm happy it's open," she said.
Some business owners, however, said things were slower than usual because the park had been partially closed in the days before the holiday.
"It's not the volume we expected," said D'Artagnan Parra, assistant director of operations for Place to Beach, a restaurant on the Boardwalk. "I think it's people having the perception we're not safe."
Others remained positive.
"It seems pretty busy," said Maya Miller, 31, owner of Brooklyn Beach Shop, which sells clothing and beach supplies.
Earlier, most of Luna Park was closed as workers dismantled the top sections of the 49-year-old tower. The block of West 10th Street off Surf Avenue, where the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel are situated, was closed by authorities after the 275-foot-tall tower was seen Tuesday swaying more than normal. Work on it began Wednesday night. The tower, closed in 2007, had been home to an elevator giving riders a sky-high view.