The Zamperla family, which owns and operates Luna Park at Coney Island, has been in the carnival business for more than a century. In 2016, the Financial Times noted that a nineteenth-century ancestor, Angelo Zamperla, “fell in love with a circus rider and became an acrobat. Since then, Zamperlas have been, variously, showmen, stuntmen and human cannonballs.” In the nineteen-sixties, the family founded an amusement-ride company, and Angelo’s great-great-grandson Alberto Zamperla now presides over a global conglomerate that has supplied rides to parks such as Disney and Six Flags, in countries from the United States to North Korea. Alberto’s two sons followed him into the family business; one of them, Alessandro, currently oversees Luna Park.
It will hardly come as a surprise that the pandemic has been particularly tough on amusement parks. By the time Luna Park reopened at partial capacity, on April 9, 2021, it had been closed for five hundred and twenty-nine days, since shutting down for the winter in 2019. Daniel Lombroso, a video producer at The New Yorker, has a long history with the beaches of South Brooklyn—his grandparents met on the beach.