|My beloved Mangel's Roto Whip, which dates back to 1948.|
It really takes a very special kind of person to run a park, an even more special sort to reopen a park that had been closed for years. Such was the case with Santa's Village. It sat dormant and desolate for five years and most of the Chicagoland area left it for dead, until these wonderful folks swept up the debris, put it to rights, brought in some gentle animals, and reopened it back in 2010. I visited in September, 2011 for the book and was heartened that it was truly as sweet as I recall it was when I thrilled to visit it as a child.
The 2012 season brings with it even more fun, as an antique car ride has opened in what used to be a picnic grove area. The folks at SVAP are really doing a great job with expanding and growing this historic park, and they promise even more to come, like an old-school, walk-through fun house!
Today, right before my interview, I was photographed by the Tribune staff photographer. She thought it might be fun for me to sit in one of the Roto-Whip cars, since mentioned it's a ride rescued from the dearly-departed Kiddieland. Well, sit in one of the cars I did, and let me tell you: my 5'8" frame never felt SO LARGE! Goliath even! She snapped away and then the miraculous happened: the kid manning the ride asked the manager if it would be okay for me to realize a little dream I'd had since seeing the resurrected ride almost a year ago: would it be okay for this 150 lb. human to actually ride the ride?
Yep - I got the green light and the ride operator let the Whip RIP! This teeny Whip packs a surprisingly good little snap! I waved at the photographer and ride operator, just like I waved at Mom and Dad over forty years ago.
Yes, it was a very good day.