Rye Playland opens to hundreds after superstorm Sandy repairs

Passengers ride the Dragon Coaster at Rye Playland

Passengers ride the Dragon Coaster at Rye Playland on the first day of the park's 2013 season. (May 11, 2013) (Credit: Xavier Mascarenas)

After months of repairs following superstorm Sandy, Rye Playland opened its gates on a gloomy Saturday morning to hundreds of eager families.

Lily Sanchez, 30, of New Rochelle, flocked to the park with her two children and a handful of nieces and nephews -- all who were "ecstatic" when they heard Playland would reopen for the summer despite the destruction.

"My children were devastated that there was damage here but they're really happy and thrilled to be here today," Sanchez said. "They were concerned that it might not reopen ever again but luckily, they were able to repair any damage that happened and they're here. They're having a good time."


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Nicole Reyes, 12, and her brother Melvin, 10, both of Manhattan, trekked up to the 1920s-era park with their uncle, Alfredo Reyes, 52, of West New York, N.J. for opening day.

"It's really cool because this is the first time I actually come to an amusement park," Nicole said. "So it's pretty cool. I can't wait to enter and get on some of the rides."

Nicole said she was heading straight for the Dragon Coaster, a landmark ride featuring a 128-foot drop that was made even more famous by former Bedford resident Mariah Carey in her "Fantasy" music video.

"I heard some of the best rides are the ones that look scarier," a giggling Nicole said.

A parade led by the Port Chester High School Marching band preceded the park's opening, while Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's children cut the opening-day ribbon just before noon, signaling the start of a summer of fun.

Concerts are scheduled at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. by Reunion, a band that performs hits from the '50s, '60s and '70s, while Kiddyland will host "Mad About Science" shows at 2 and 4 p.m. A DJ will also be on-hand playing tunes.

SANDY HIT HARD

The park opens after it was severely damaged by superstorm Sandy. Repairs at the 280-acre park totaled more than $13 million. At the beginning of May, as many as 80 workers will still feverishly hammering away at repairs.

Construction has been ongoing for months as workers hurried to fix a section of the boardwalk that was wrecked by the Oct. 29 storm. While the boardwalk was open Saturday, it will be shut down during the week to allow for finishing touches. Brazilian wood was used to create a more durable boardwalk, as roofs were repaired and new blacktop was laid.

Renovations are still being completed on the pier, swimming pool and the Ice Casino, which houses three indoor ice rinks.

Astorino plans to give the management reigns in October to Sustainable Playland, a nonprofit organization, in hopes that a private investment will make the facility profitable.

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