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Old Posted Mar 12, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Is the Coney Island Boardwalk importing California freaks? Addition of John Strong's Show mulled

BY Jotham Sederstrom
March 12th 2009

You got fries with that snake? Enchantra at Coney Island.

Dick Zigun, owner and operator of Coney Island USA and the Sideshow.

A Coney Island fire eater.

A woman swallows a sword at Coney Island.

The latest East Coast-West Coast rivalry is a Boardwalk battle of oddballs that has Coney Island carnies freaking out.

John Strong's Shows, the largest collection of oddities and circus freaks in the country, plans to open just two blocks from Coney Island's reigning sideshow. The move from California puts Strong in direct competition with Dick Zigun, founder of the world-famous Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

"My show will do 50 times what Dick Zigun's show does every day," boasted John Strong3rd, who said his collection of 250 oddities - including the world's only two-headed cow - will open April 9 at the former site of Astroland Park.

"We're going to be on every major talk show and we're hoping we can revive Coney," added Strong, who said his attraction would be renamed the Coney Island Freakshow.

Zigun, whose army of sword swallowers and fire breathers has wowed Coney revelers since 1986, said he's ready to protect his Surf Ave. turf.

"They will tell you they have a live show, but odds are that means you get one person," sniffed Zigun.

A spokesman for Thor Equities, which bought the 3.1-acre Astroland site in 2006, insisted the developer was still in talks with amusement operators and hadn't yet chosen Strong.

"Thor Equities is still in talks with numerous amusement operators, sideshow acts and other vendors, as we prepare to kick off the summer of 2009," said the spokesman.

"Regardless of who Thor decides to partner with, we are confident that every single square foot of property that Thor owns in Coney Island will be open and active."
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