The Exorcism of Coney Island

The Haunted Roller Coaster

In the Spring of 1995, I was working on several projects with my mother – long distance, as always. We’d been through so much together and we both had a very strong feeling that new doors were about to open up. It was the culmination of the past nine years – all our books, ideas and projects were coming together as part of the great plan of completion. Mom had made predictions, such as the World Trade Center bombing and was predicting that much more terrorism will invade our country in the future – all centering on New York, “The New City,” as Nostradamus referred to it. She told the newspaper in her annual predictions that we’ve been experiencing what were the beginnings of another great war. I knew it to be true; I, myself, have had so many vivid dreams over the past ten years about terrorists coming from other countries and war in our streets. “Carnage” is a word that’s just never been used to describe disasters in America. The thought of it all was sad and frightening. We were becoming more and more aware of the reality that freedom is something we should never take for granted. After an incident such as the Oklahoma City bombing, we knew our country was in serious trouble.

In April, my mother came to New York so we could have a meeting with prospective agents at the William Morris Agency. We strongly believed the spirits led us to them just at that particular time. Everything seemed to be aligning just perfectly. I’d been inside many skyscrapers of New York City; in between being a starving artist and a struggling musician, I’d worked as a temp. It felt good to be going into a Manhattan office on our behalf instead of as a temp. We had our presentation ready – complete with a video compilation of much of my mother’s outstanding work over the years. We were prepared to meet opportunity.

It was actually the first time I’d seen the clip of what has turned out to be one of her most amazing spiritual gifts – drawing the criminals she’d described to the police. She was able to use her artistic talents to create renderings of what she’d seen psychically, in order to help the police with cases in even more detail. Nothing was as moving about her psychic gift as that rainy afternoon in the office of William Morris, “The Agency,” when they played the videotape of the six o’clock news where they superimposed a photograph of the actual person they’d caught over mom’s psychic sketch! It literally gave me chills!

That month, before my mother came to New York, I’d felt compelled to visit Coney Island and actually did go there several times. Like the theatres of Broadway, I sensed a deep karmic connection – as though I’d been there in a past life. But it was sad when I got there – it seemed to be a mere shell of what it once must have been. It looked like it had been bombed and burned and torn apart only to be rebuilt and torn apart again. Everything I’d heard about it seemed like fairy tales because it all just looked like a dirty, littered, partially abandoned tourist trap. Like the dying 42nd street of Broadway, its heyday had come and gone and I just wondered what had really happened to the historic amusement park. I sensed evil forces, the darkness, the disasters. I knew something was terribly wrong there that just can’t be explained in words. We walked on the pier where the Hasidim crabbed. Off in the distance of the gray day, a haunting image rose up from the ashes of time; an old, abandoned roller coaster spoke volumes.

I thought while my mother was in New York, I would ask her to visit Coney Island with me to see if she could tune in to its ghosts and maybe even do an exorcism near what I called the “haunted” roller coaster. Mom hadn’t been to Coney Island since she was a girl. When we arrived, we approached the blackened charred ruins of what once had been a great amusement ride… very near the old parachute drop. It stood erect in an abandoned field with weeds growing all around. I could still hear its passengers from long ago screaming in a mixture of terror and glee – voices on the winds of time from a bygone era. There were dogs that looked like wild wolves from a horror film – gray, unkempt beasts covered in dirty, matted fur, barking and running back and forth as if they were filled with a strange spirit there to protect its fortress. Mom began the prayers of exorcism:

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we ask you, Father, to bless this whole area… Whatever negative spirits abide here, we ask that Christ come in and take over with love and truth and beauty and that this whole field be used for the glory of thy nature and for the good of mankind. We ask that someone come here and burn this place down and build something very beautiful that is very productive and clean all this mess up. We ask that any negative spirits, in the name of Jesus Christ, any negative spirits that dwell in the dogs, we ask that you leave. Catherine, I ask you, as a saint among women, to bless this area and to guide the people to come here and build something that’s very productive and beautiful – maybe a playground for children… and we believe that this can be accomplished in the very near future. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we pray… amen.”

It had been rainy, dark and dreary, when after the prayers and rites of the exorcism, the clouds parted as we returned to the Boardwalk. The sun came out and shone brightly. The rain stopped. My mother predicted, “Disney or some similar organization will come here shortly and clean all this up. The dogs are calm now since we cast out all the evil spirits. The wind was blowing so hard, that our umbrellas were about to break. Look how pretty it is now!” Indeed, the sea gulls were gathering about the stretch of the beach and the Boardwalk and we felt a sudden peace that was indescribable.

That evening, my mother tranced for some friends and let St. Catherine come through. We all asked for messages. She told us about three spirits who were haunting our home at the time and predicted that we would move a few months from then, which we did. I asked about what had really happened to Coney Island and her response was:

“There were three people who were in business in that area there and there were, I would say, three main men. These men had many arguments and disagreements. They also had a tremendous amount of money that was owed; so, therefore, the arson that took place there… actually eliminated some of the problems. There was much gambling, much organized crime situations that went on there in the 50′s and 60′s. This whole area there has been almost… I can’t explain it, exactly. But there’s a negative vibration, like a dark cloud, over that area. It is important to pray for that area and I hope that the Lord God will take heed to what we have asked today and that you will see some changes there. Continue to pray for that area because it is a good area to bring good things into that city, that little area there.”

I asked if there is a predominating evil force.

“I would not call it evil, but it certainly is a dark force; but I don’t see it at this time… Building needs to be continued and clean up needs to be done because if the people of New York City do not start cleaning up and replacing crime-ridden areas with good and love, there will not be a New York City within three years.”

Later, I watched a documentary, which confirmed a lot of what she had said during the exorcism and afterwards in trance. The program begins by showing the haunted roller coaster as it appears today, amidst a blanket of fog, scrawled with graffiti. It represents, metaphorically, the shadow of evil, and the social decay that Coney Island came to represent. The five mile stretch on the coast of Brooklyn, just nine miles from Manhattan, was the home to three great parks (Steeplechase, Luna Park and Dreamland) which were built in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s… all of which were destroyed by fire (although Steeplechase was rebuilt soon after)… thus, the name, “The City of Fire.” The great, but crooked, builder, McKane, had ruled the island in the late 1800′s; but he was not a good man and landed in Sing Sing for election fraud, misuse of public funds and other charges. Ministers and reverends spoke of the violence, lewd sex, gambling and prostitution that went on there, “victims they make drunken and rob.” There were actually three chief men who created the parks and all of them were shady characters who competitively argued amongst each other, always trying to outdo one another. One of them died and another ended up bankrupt. They never really reveal the details of what went on there; but even today, there is an unmistakable dark presence in the remains where the sordid, shoddy amusement shacks still run full blast, where the hiss and boom of the breakers and crumbling paste board dominate the scene. The Wonder Wheel still stands in Astroland. Historians, nonetheless, say we should always consider Coney Island to be “forever an opportunity, a frontier…” not a place to rebuild what once was.

The haunted roller coaster stands as a reminder of years gone by. What’s left of Coney Island, 1995 – Astroland, the abandoned parachute drop, the Wonder Wheel… remains there to remind us of such frontiers of the American dream. There is no more Steeplechase, no more Luna, no more Dreamland… only a wasteland. Rest assured, though, the place they had called “Sodom by the Sea” has been cleansed. And the clouds parted.

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