Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coney Island Loses A Passionate Soul

Images courtesy of Charles Denson

He became passionate about his dream of bringing a one-of-a-kind electric Himalaya back to Coney, where he would man the ride, blasting Motown favorites out onto the new Coney Island. His dream will now live on. Perhaps the Himalaya will return in his honor. He was Andy Badalamenti; a Coney Island ride operator who passed away this past Monday. He was a resident of Coney his whole life and a ride operator of classic rides including the Tornado Roller Coaster, The Bobsled, and one of his favorites; the Himalaya.

He worked at the Tornado Roller Coaster while being one of the few Coney Islander's who's ever actually lived under a coaster. Marked forever into Coney Island folklore is the image of Andy atop the smoldering ruins of the Tornado Roller Coaster as he stood promising a rebirth and a mighty comeback for the coaster. “We’re gonna fix it! The Tornado will be back!”, proclaimed Andy, as written by Charles Denson, author of "Wild Ride: A Roller Coaster Family".

He later went to work for the police stables in Brighton Beach, where he was able to fulfill his other passion for animals.

He worked as a keeper for Coney Island land hoarder, Horace Bullard, guarding some of Coney's most precious relics, while driven with a dream of restoring them to their former glory. But one which could have only gone as far as Horace would care to allow, as they sat unkempt for many years. The illegal destruction of the Thunderbolt coaster by the Giuliani administration was a hard blow for Andy. One which he never was able to overcome.

Andy looked like he might have been a tough man in his youth, who has quelled as he began to mature. Thought he was still quite young. He always wore a smile and would always have a sparkle in his eyes as he lit up when talking about Coney Island. He was a contemporary Coney Island fixture and one of Coney Island's real characters.

He was battling with cancer. He legacy will live on. He will be missed.

Andy's wake was held yesterday and will also be held today July 28th from 2-5pm and 7-9pm at Cusimano and Russo Funeral Home, 2005 W. 6th St at Avenue T, in Brooklyn. The funeral will be at 9:45am on Friday, July 29, at the Church of Saints Simon and Jude, 185 Van Sicklen St at Avenue T.