Amos Wengler has lived in Coney Island or nearby for most of the last four and a half decades. His family emigrated from Israel in 1962, when he was 17, and moved into one of the towers built by Fred Trump.
For years, Wengler has been composing and singing songs about Coney Island, from songs about the hot dog eating contest to the “polar bears” (a local club of people who swim in the ocean during the winter). During community meetings discussing redevelopment of the neighborhood, Wengler has been known to sing, instead of speak, in an effort to persuade politicians to stop their development plans.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I sat down with Wengler in the Coney Island Museum for a chat about the neighborhood, its atmosphere and his music. I also recorded him singing in the Coney Island subway station, where he has a permit to sing.
Amos Wengler Speaks About Coney Island
Wengler talks about the boardwalk and his memory of riding the now-defunct Parachute Jump.
There have been other times in Coney’s history when things were shut down and changed, but Wengler worries that this time it may be worse.
Wengler recounts how the hot dog eating contest started, and his role in it.
Amos Wengler Sings in the Coney Island Subway Station_
Wengler has sung his “Hot Dog Song” at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every summer for more than 20 years.