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Coney Island Provides Thrills for Young and Old Alike

Dec. 26, 2006 – – A Christmas festival staple, Coney Island was in full swing Tuesday, strapping thrill seekers in for the rides they waited for all year.
Games of chance were also popular with the older crowd, who just put a dollar or two on the number and threw an oversized die on the table. If your color came up, you won.
There was also a horse race game with miniature horse and jockey spinning on a table. A dollar or two secured your bet, and maybe you won some cash to buy a present for someone who was left off your Christmas list.
Under their parents' watchful eyes, scores of children ran from ride to ride, determined not to miss one moment of fun while ride barkers enticed potential customers to spend just one more dollar. The outlying booths were filled with bright, shiny flashing and spinning rides, swaying in the mild evening breeze. As the rides spun faster and faster, the children's delighted screams (mixed in with some adults) added to the evening's joyous din.
Gregory Charles brought his grandkids and neighborhood friends to the rides. "I had to do it," Charles said. "It's part of their Christmas gift."
Charles received a gift of his own when his granddaughter said to him: "You're the best grandpa!"
Two of his charges — Linisha George, 9 and Lashonda Joseph, 7 — both liked Himalaya ride. "It was going fast," George said.
Security was tight. Supplementing the police presence were three young marines dressed in fatigues and armed with stun guns.
"We're here to keep the peace," said Kimani Boyea, 19. The 2006 graduate of Central High School is already an Iraq combat veteran. "I was fighting, but fighting goes on everywhere," Boyea said. He is currently on leave and will return to active duty at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Junior Novas-Jaquez, 21, joined the marines two years ago and is also a combat veteran who was overseas for 17 months.
Adam O'Neal, 18, signed up with the marines after graduating from Central High last July and was assigned to Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Ca. He believes he will be shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan soon. "I'm serving my country," he said. "It's better than doing nothing."
Editors note: For complete Festival schedule click here.

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