Shoot the Freak

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Signage for the attraction, from 2010

Shoot the Freak was an attraction on the Riegelmann Boardwalk at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York that operated from 2000 until its demolition in 2010.[1] The game was located on West Boardwalk in Coney Island. The game was considered a landmark and one of the truly distinctive features of Coney Island.[2] A successor, called Shoot the Clown, opened in a different location on the Boardwalk in 2013.

Game play[edit]

The game consisted of a raised platform above a yard filled with obstacles and other objects. A high concrete wall defined the back end of the yard; the walls of adjacent buildings defined the side boundaries. A carnival barker would draw passersby to play the game. Players would fire paintball rifles from the platform at human targets in the yard below. Playing the game required purchase of ammunition from the proprietor. The targets (the "freaks") were unarmed, wore plastic armor, and would taunt and insult the players while dodging paintball fire. No prizes were awarded and there was no scoring system.[3]


As part of its contract with the New York City government to reconstruct and modernize Coney Island, the Italian firm Zamperla USA attempted to force existing, long-standing Coney Island boardwalk attractions to close or relocate. Many, including Shoot the Freak, refused. Over the 2010 winter holidays, Shoot the Freak was bulldozed without proper permits[4] and sealed off. The owner and operator of Shoot the Freak was Anthony Berlingieri, also the owner of Beer Island, another Boardwalk business threatened with eviction by Zamperla USA.[5] Berlingieri had been battling Zamperla USA in court and had been formally served eviction papers on Nov. 1, 2010, but the eviction had been stayed on appeal and court hearings were not yet under way. Zamperla USA was fined for the illegal action.[6]

Shoot the Clown[edit]

After Superstorm Sandy decimated Coney Island in winter 2012, proprietors scrambled to replace the attractions that had been destroyed for the following spring. The old Derby Racer space, in the Bowery area of Coney Island, became the site of Shoot the Clown. The rules, layout and setup of Shoot the Clown are identical to those of Shoot the Freak. The proprietor of Shoot the Clown is Caesar, the operator of a number of other attractions.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • A band based in Brooklyn is named Shoot The Freak.[8]
  • In the game Grand Theft Auto IV, a non-playable storefront in Firefly Island in Broker is called "Shoot Em Down." The sign is in the same style as Shoot the Freak's sign.[9]


  1. ^ Green, Jonah (2010-12-23). "Shoot The Freak Bulldozed: Coney Favorite Razed Without Consent". Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  2. ^ "Shoot The Freak : Curbed NY". Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  3. ^ "Shoot the Freak". 2004-09-19. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  4. ^ Calder, Rich (2010-12-23). "Coney Island's "Shoot the Freak" razed and boarded up by Zamperla USA". Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Durkin, Erin (2011-02-15). "Coney Island favorites Ruby's, Beer Island may return next summer, though Shoot the Freak will not - New York Daily News". Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Shoot The Freak (@shoothefreak) op Twitter
  9. ^ Firefly Island - Grand Theft Wiki, the GTA wiki

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°34′26″N 73°58′49″W / 40.5740°N 73.9803°W / 40.5740; -73.9803