Welcometo As It Is! I’m Christopher Cruise.
Today, we will visita New York City neighborhood knownfor its amusement park. But for one family, the parkhas not been all funand games.
“It was, it was likea death.”
We will also talk aboutan American court casethat has ledto protests acrossthe country.
The George Zimmerman trial ended last Saturdayin Florida. The jury found Mr. Zimmermannot guilty. He had been charged with murdering17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmermanwas drivingin his neighborhoodin February2012 whenhe sawthe teenager. Trayvon Martinwas walkingto a friend’s house. Mr. Zimmerman toldthe policethe young manwas acting suspiciously.
George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, left his carand followed Trayvon Martin. The two fought. Mr. Zimmermanhad a gun, and he shotand killedthe teenager.
The death left many Americans saying Trayvon Martinwas targeted becausehe was black. George Zimmermanis half-Hispanicand half-white.
His defense lawyer, MarkO’Mara, said his client shot Trayvon Martin becausethe teenager attacked him.
“George Zimmermanwas never guiltyof anything except protecting himselfin self-defense. I’m gladthat the jury sawit that way. And I hopethat everyone who thinks-- particularly those who doubted George's reasons, and doubted his background-- now understandsthat the jury knew everythingthat they knew, it was enoughfor themto find himnot guilty. ”
The not-guilty verdictin the casehas ledto protestsin several American cities. The protestersare callingfor justicein what they sayis a race-based ruling. Five membersof the juryare white, and oneis Hispanic. Allare women.
The headof the Departmentof Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder, is studyingthe case. Mr. Holder sayshe will decide whether federal charges shouldbe brought against George Zimmerman. Government lawyers would haveto provethat Mr. Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin becausehe didnot trust black people.
The attorney general saysthat Americans should usethe caseto discuss their beliefs about raceand young people.
“We are resolved, as youare, to combat violence involvingor directedat young people, to prevent future tragediesand to deal withthe underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefsand stereotypesthat serveas the basisfor these too common incidents.”
President Obama commentedon the caseon Sunday. He called Trayvon Martin’s deatha tragedyfor the Martin familyand for the country. But, Mr. Obama asked Americansto stay calm. He said, “We are a nationof laws, and a juryhas spoken.”
When super-storm Sandy hitthe east coastof the United States last October, it caused major damagein coastal areas like New York’s Coney Island. VOA’s Adam Phillips followed one family affectedby the storm. He watchedas they cleaned up, re-imaginedand rebuilt their Coney Island businessfor opening day2013. June Simmshas the story.
For more thana century, Coney Islandhas been knownfor seaside funand a placeto escapefrom New York, the citythat never sleeps. But that dreamland turned intoa terrible experiencefor the Vourderis familyon October29th. Rising watersfrom Sandy flooded their Coney Island amusement ridesand games.
“Whenwe got hereand sawthe devastation, it was likea death, figuratively likea death.”
Deno Vourderisis a third generation workerin this family-owned business.
“I mean figuratively likea death becausea lotof the stuffhas history.”
Those things includethe family’s 93 year old Wonder Wheel. The 45-meter high structurewas namedan official New York City landmarkin 1989. It survivedthe strong windsof super-storm Sandy, but the storm’s sandand water nearly destroyedit.
The family’s over50 year old Spook-A-Rama house also suffered damage.
The Vourderis family decidedto rebuild. Deno worked witha five man crewhe has known sincehe was a boy. His father Steve directedthe clean-upand rebuilding effort.
“...We’re menand we do whatwe haveto do. We getit done.”
Steve’s brother, Dennis Vourderis, supervised planningand finances. He saysthe familyhad to borrowa huge amountof moneyto payfor repairsand new equipment.
“But what hurts moreis when you havean old pieceof equipmentthat has been aroundfor 70 or 80 yearsthat was underwaterand you knowit can’t be restored. Sothat’s especially painfulto throw away.”
“We mightbe ableto fixthis. Louis! Don’t throwthis guyout, okay? We’re gonna bring himin the shopand see whatwe can do with him.”
After monthsof hard work, the Wonder Wheelis rebuiltand the ridesfor childrenare ready. Sois the Spook-A-Rama’s gimmicksfor frightening people. The Vourderis familywas excited withthe results.
“We kepta coupleof the old relics, but a lotof it is new. All new mechanics, all new haunts. So, you know, the silver liningis if you comeby this summer you’re gonna havea lotof new stuffto see. “
Coney Island's rebirth becamea realityin late March when people gathered togetherfor Opening Day.
The Vourderis family offered up funat no costfor everyonein attendance.
“I couldn't be happier. Everything workedout the waywe wantedit to workout . Allthe ridesare upand running. Wonder Wheelis at 100 percent. SoI couldn’t be happier.”
Muchof what Sandy destroyedhas been rebuilt.
It is probably safeto saythat nowhere havethe resultsbeen more fun than hereat Coney Island.
“We love you Coney!!”
Speakingof amusement parks, Disneyland openedon this datein 1955.
And, if youdon’t knowthe historyof “Wrong Way Corrigan,” you’re missinga great story. Douglas Corriganwas an amateur airplane pilot. On July17, 1938, he left Brooklyn, New York headedfor Los Angeles, California. Mr. Corrigan landedin Ireland 28 hours later.
I'm Christopher Cruise, and that's As it Is on the Voiceof America.