Throughout the pandemic, we’ve explored ways to share our vibrant and quirky neighborhood with those who haven’t been able to visit us. “Characters of Coney Island” is a blog where we feature some of our favorite people in the neighborhood whose energy and presence is what makes Coney Island the unique place we’re proud to call home.
This month we’re featuring Joshua Gold! From Balloon Boy to Crazy Coney Island Kid, a favorite CIB regular/neighborhood icon, and the unofficial “Longest Cub in the history of the Polar Bear Club”.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing club in the US. It’s brave members venture into the frigid waters of Coney Island every Sunday from November to April. They are the same group that organizes and executes the famed Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day. All funds raised help support local non-profits, the community and free public programing. In order to become a true “Polar Bear” individuals needs to complete 12 icy cold swims and then get voted in. In 2020, Josh was gearing up to finish his last swim to meet the requirement to become an official Polar Bear when the pandemic hit. Although he kept unofficially swimming with the Polar Bears throughout the year, he (officially) became a member in 2021!
Also, if you’ve ever been to Coney Island in December, you’ve likely been in awe of his festively “lit” car parked right in front of our Taproom!
Josh’s energy and thirst for life is exactly what Coney Island represents. Check out what he had to say about the neighborhood that he’s been a part of for years and make sure to say “Hi!” to him next time you ride the Phoenix rollercoaster.
Where are you from originally?
I’m born and raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn!
What is your connection to Coney Island?
I work for the Vourderis family at Deno’s Wonder Wheel park as a ride/game operator and am a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club during the winter season. Fun fact about me, I started my Coney Island journey working for Benny from “skin the wire”. After that, I worked for Jimmy Balloons who had the balloon dart game and basketball game at the end of the Bowery (It’s now changed to archery).
Coney Island is a place where I feel at home. It represents family and means I’ll always have a place where I can find a friend to see.
What is your favorite memory of Coney Island?
Oh, there are so many! I’d honestly have to say being picked to be one of the main operators for the Phoenix roller coaster when it first opened last year.
What is your favorite ride?
My favorite ride has to be the Wonder Wheel, (swinging cart of course!), and Stop The Zombies right next to the Wonder Wheel.
What is your go-to food in Coney?
Well, most recently, my go-to food would 100% be the chicken fingers at the Coney Island Brewery!
What do you wish you could have experienced in the old ‘nostalgic’ Coney Island?
I definitely would have loved to experience Opening Day of the Wonder Wheel and I also wish I could have taken a ride on the Parachute Jump.
What is your favorite Coney Island Brewery beer?
My favorite beer would have to be the first beer I had… Watermelon Wheat!!