Meadville Tribune

Local News

May 23, 2013

Park set to open for season Friday afternoon

CONNEAUT LAKE PARK — Continuing a tradition started in 1892, Conneaut Lake Park will open for another season the Friday before Memorial Day.

The fun starts at 4 p.m. and runs until everyone has had enough.

Leonard Adams III, one of the owners of Adams Amusements, which leases the park’s amusement rides from the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, is excited and ready for another season to start. He and his crew have been busy all winter preparing the rides, painting and cleaning. “It’s an historical landmark,” said Adams of the amusement park. “There’s not any like this around any more,” he said, adding the park has a “lot of rare rides.”

Twenty-three rides, including the Blue Streak and miniature train, will be in operation. The sole ride not yet ready for opening day is the historic Tumble Bug. Adams said the Bug has some mechanical issues that now are being worked on and it is hoped to have it running by the July 4th weekend. The park’s Bug is one of only two in the world and it is a popular ride, so Adams is working hard to ensure that it will be back on track.

In the meantime, the Tilt-a-Whirl has had repairs, including a new drive unit. Scenery panels around the ride have been repainted to give them a fresh look as well. Also painted were the bottom portions of the carousel building. The carousel is a popular ride for both children and adults and the park’s original organ music is another unique feature at the park.

Another historic ride is the Devil’s Den, which an indoor pretzel ride operated by gravity, said Adams.

Turning to Kiddie Land, Adams said children now will be able to ride fire trucks that once were in operation at the now-closed Idora Park in Ohio. The company prepared them over the winter. Adams enjoys what Kiddie Land has to offer for not only the children, but the adults. “You can sit on a bench anywhere in Kiddie Land and see your children on every ride. You can see no matter what. It feels safe. It’s a really nice place,” he added.

While focusing on getting various rides ready to go, the Adams family also has focused on making other improvements — such as to the restrooms by the Dodgem, which now have new flooring and a new paint job. Painting also was done at various other places in the park.

Adams was pleased with the work of volunteers during a recent weekend when many people donated time to pick up the remaining twigs and debris that had accumulated over the winter. He complimented the many volunteers and their dedication. “We are trying to get rid of the blight,” he said, noting although a lot of work has been done, there is more to be done.

Another park favorite, “Connie Otter” got a facelift with new paint to allow children to have their pictures taken. The large cutout of an otter also has a new “brother,” Conrad.

In another aspect of work completed, Adams Amusements will have an additional food stand open at the park — taking the number to three and two satellite stands. In addition, ice cream and slushies have been added to the menus. “On a nice, hot day people will be able to cool off,” he said. Another new menu item is “The Blue Streak Burger,” a double cheeseburger with all the works. It will be featured at the midway kitchen.

Adams said the many trees along the midway provide cover to protect guests from the hot sun and they are an asset for the park.

Adams has the first option to operate the water park. Adams said he is negotiating with a prospective contractor for that ride to open, but that is tentative right now. In addition, he is negotiating to bring some other rides to the park by the end of the year but declined to reveal which ones because of the ongoing negotiations.

In observance of the Blue Streak’s 75th birthday, special activities are planned for weekends in September. The park will be open on Saturday and Sundays in September from noon to 6 p.m. with a special $10 ride wrist band that allows guests to ride all the rides, including the Blue Streak, and play miniature golf.

Adams Amusement got involved with Conneaut Lake Park four years ago when it began work on the Blue Streak. It started leasing the rides two and one-half years ago.

In the meantime, Greg Suttlerlin of the Park Restoration Inc., which leases the Beach Club and Hotel Conneaut, also is excited about the upcoming 2013 season. The company has been operating both venues all winter. “We have very sold schedules and look forward to a good season,” he said. Musical events are planned each week for the Beach Club as well as many outdoor musical concerts. “We have a lot of entertainment (booked). We have new bands and familiar faces.”

“Tribute bands” are scheduled for every Sunday as well as an Hawaiian luau. “We are hoping for a lot of good, sunny days,” he added.

Although nothing has been formally worked out yet, he is confident fireworks will be on the schedule for the July 4th celebration, noting it probably won’t be on that specific day, but either the July 3rd weekend or the Saturday after July 4th.

Conneaut Lake Park has lined up all types of summer entertainment — both in terms of rides, food and musical entertainment — all designed to meet entertainment tastes of all ages.

“We are happy we have leases in place and able to prepare to open the 121st year of Conneaut Lake Park and celebrate the 75th year of the Blue Streak,” said Jack Moyers, chairman of the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, which was appointed by the court to oversee the public trust.

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