Meadville Tribune

Local News

June 30, 2013

Volunteers chip in to help spruce up beloved Conneaut Lake Park

CONNEAUT LAKE — Conneaut Lake Park is on the upswing.

At least, that’s what volunteers will tell you as they plant flowers and paint fences at the park, beautifying it one piece at a time.

Whether amateur or professional, painters, planters and landscapers from all over Pennsylvania and Ohio have offered their services to try and bring the park back to its glory days, with its rare collection of rides in full-swing and crowds numbering in the thousands.

Pittsburgh-area contractor Ron Schaub spent yet another weekend at the park Saturday afternoon, painting blue trim on the Splash City Bath House while avoiding splashes from the occasional downpour,

A park patron since his childhood, Schaub plans to utilize his experience in historical restorations to brighten up the park and attract more volunteers.

“We’re trying to focus primarily on cosmetics, but it goes a long way in beautifying the park,” Schaub said emphasizing the park’s local and historical value. “We could really turn this park around. We don’t want this gem to disappear.”

Schaub has donated more than 45 gallons of paint this year alone and has made at least four trips to the park this month, ready to mulch, paint, landscape and whatever else park operators should ask of him.

“We’re just trying to hit everything we can,” he said.

Working beside him on Saturday were fellow park lovers Brian Carrabine and Ben O’Brien and his son, Sean, all of Ohio.

These volunteers also recall coming to Conneaut Lake Park since their early years and realized the park’s need while attending events and spending at least the past few months working at the park.

“This has been my home away from home since May,” said Carrabine. “We’d do a little bit of everything from light painting to flower planting before Ron offered his services.”

Carrabine and other volunteers voiced their appreciation for Schaub, grateful to have a professional helping to lead the community’s restoration effort.

“We’re already planning to stay up here and help out Ron,” Sean O’Brien said. “All of his work is just fantastic. I really like the new light blue at Splash City.”

While minor repairs and projects are just the tip of the iceberg, park lovers say they’re glad to help take some pressure off of Adams Amusements, which leases the park’s amusement rides from the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park.

Sean hopes to see Splash City open and operating once again.

“I think it’s coming along, “Schaub added. “It’s looking better, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

So far, volunteers and park staff have worked collectively to re-paint several rides, benches and Midway booths, as well as the Blue Streak Grove pavilions, which Schaub expects will once again become a focal point as the park’s restoration progresses.

One of the next big steps is to tackle major attractions, including the park entrance and eventually the Blue Streak itself.

“I’m hoping next month to jump on the main entrance,” Schaub said. “A lot of people have been looking forward to seeing that restored.”

Schaub receives feedback regarding pictures and work dates he posts online, documenting his progress on his company website, Facebook and Youtube pages.

“We get different suggestions from fans and volunteers,” Schaub said. “And we have interior plans and minor landscaping projects for when it rains.”

“We could use some nice weather,” said Lenny Adams, manager of Adams Amusements, his hands packed with mulch from recent projects. “But even on a rainy day like this one, we have customers and that’s telling us that people want to come.”

Adams expressed his appreciation to park volunteers and staff members alike, emphasizing their positive impact on the park and its attendees.

“It’s a never-ending battle with paint around here,” Adams said, “but we got a lot of landscaping done and we did a lot of work in Kiddieland.”

Many areas in Kiddieland were refurbished and painted with potential plans to reinstall small bathrooms and other buildings lost to fires in years past.

Adams also said the park is catching up on ride maintenance and hopes to showcase the volunteer work and other park improvements at the Blue Streak Birthday Bash on July 20.

“People still have the mindset that nothing’s been done with the park,” Adams said. “We want to flip that mindset. Look at all the new paint and look how well the rides run.”

“I hope to come back someday and see big crowds again,” Schaub said. “I think by next year, people will realize that the park’s still here and start to come back little by little.”

While keeping the details under wraps, Adams mentioned big plans in the park’s immediate future, urging park fans to keep up with the website for upcoming details.

“It may be the turning point for the park, it’s that big of a deal,” Adams said.

Until then, park operators and volunteers are satisfied with their efforts in showing continual love for Conneaut Lake Park in the efforts to keep it alive and thriving.

“What we need most, besides volunteers, is people and families to come and support the park; to ride the rides and buy some food,” Schaub said. “We’re ready for crowds and families again. It’s coming back.”

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