Monday, August 5, 2013

Conneaut Lake Park - the amusement park equivalent of "The Little Engine That Could"

Photo by David Lepley

I visited Conneaut Lake Park three times during the writing of my book, and saw its slow resurgence from a shambles which was closed for two years, to a truly viable, snazzy little amusement park.  So when I learned of its latest troubles, I was floored and felt like I lost a friend - or at least have a friend on life support.

In case you haven't heard, Conneaut Lake Park had yet another setback this past week, when the 78-year-old Beach Club was burned to the ground (the reason has yet to be disclosed).  This was on the heels of, just a few days later, a grand party to celebrate a rehab done to the park by a production company who hopes to sell the show to the Travel Channel.  So many people were so very hopeful, but then, the fire broke out and levelled the space where many folks would come out to enjoy a brew and a rock band, maybe play some volleyball.  And those who visited the Beach Club quite often also patronized the park.  Another tragedy in a long history.

I'm giving full credit to the poet, Terri Nye Kindervater, for this whimsical-yet-poignant summation of the park's woes, told from the point of view of CLP itself.

by Terri Nye Kindervater

I’m Conneaut Lake Park and I’m in the news today.
I’m old and I’m tired and I have something to say.
You know those directors that are always looking out for me.
Gee whiz, give them some credit – the board works for free.

Yes, I’ve suffered many trials and tribulations through all of my years.
And through it all my followers have shed so many tears.
While the roof from the Beach Club fire comes down and crashes.
I am like the mighty phoenix that rises from the ashes.

My buildings are falling because of age and disrepair.
The fires are alarming. They’re giving lots of us a scare.
I’ve been robbed and I’ve been swindled – oh the stories I could tell.
Some have gone to prison and some are sitting well.

The ballroom in this hotel of mine remembers each prom and wedding.
Little girls dream of being beautiful brides with my picturesque setting.
Some say our stately hotel is haunted and that they’ve seen Elizabeth the ghost.
I think it only adds to the intrigue – come on, we’re a gracious host!

The Blue Streak runs through me, near the train that whistles around.
And I still have the Tumble Bug – a worthy challenge to keep running sound.
The Wild Mouse is gone now and many rides have changed - The Fun House became the Ultimate Trip and now the building lies to rest.
But buildings can be rebuilt – you see, change is often for the best.

I’ve made kids laugh and holler while their parents watch and smile.
At the same time I’m a place for grandparents to just ponder for a while.
When you look back through all of my old photos, the buildings no longer exist.
But the nostalgia keeps growing greater because the history will still persist.

The historic ferry boats that have driven past me have come and gone.
And many people that used to visit me have now passed on.
But you see the one thing that is still with me – the thing that can not be denied.
Is that the lake that I have watched daily has not left my side.

Gracious people have helped me, volunteering their time and skills.
And others are supportive if only in prayers to pay our bills.
I’d like to thank my friends and followers and the one way that would work so well.
Is for me to succeed anew and tell the negative people – please, go to ... Cedar Point.