Judy and I have had a grand time this weekend. My daughter Megan has been visiting us along with Jackson, our grandson. We decided to take a walk on the Boardwalk in Ocean City today. After Memorial Day, the Boardwalk is usually packed on the weekends, and tonight was no exception. Fortunately, it wasn’t stifling hot and humid as it normally could be. Instead, the evening was fully of cool breezes and low humidity. As we walked, Jackson was enthralled with all of the people, the smells, the sounds and the bright, colorful lights that illuminated the shops and rides along the Boardwalk.
There were moments all along our journey when I was transported back to a time when similar sounds and smells surrounded me in the same way. If I closed my eyes, I felt as if were walking along the lagoon in Kennywood Park on an early summer evening. The sounds of riders screaming while riding the steel coaster at the Inlet in Ocean City could be heard in the background, teenager girls chattering and giggling, the aroma of freshly popped popcorn from Fisher’s and that unmistakable smell of French fries being prepared at Thrasher’s. The only sound missing was the clacking of the cars climbing the hills of one of Kennywood’s wooden coasters.
I’ve come to realize that I write a great deal about Kennywood Park, but it was such a constant part of my life, it hard to ignore so many recollections. I often have random memories that really don’t fit together as a cohesive story. For instance:
• Remember when the Laff-in-the-Dark was the first ride that you encountered when entering out of the parking lot tunnel? It was located where the Turnpike was recently. It always scared the bejesus out of me, especially with Laffing Sally out front in the ticket booth.
• Watching people enjoying themselves rowing around the lagoon in metal rowboats wielding oars always looked fun. It was only when I attempted to row that boat when I was on a date did I realize that it wasn’t an easy job at all! I ended up only making it once around the stage portion of the lagoon.
• The Penny Arcade always had a special sound. All of the bells, dings and whistles were mechanical as I was going up. There wasn’t a single electronic tone to be heard. In addition, the different attraction only cost a penny or two.
• I remember watching the French fry conveyer belt that was in the refreshment stand across from the Jack Rabbit
• I miss the silver rocket ships that were part of the lagoon scene, and the tunnel you had to go through to get to them.
• Remember the chalk figurines that you could win at the milk bottle and other games?
• I miss the Kennywood Restaurant that had tables with tablecloths, waitresses, green Fiestaware, and great freshly prepared food!
• I used to love the white sailor hats with your name embroidered.
I’m sure that you have dozens and dozens of other memories. Let me know if you do.
In the meantime, Kennywood has been in the news for a different reason lately:
It appears that for the first time since it opened, Kennywood Park may begin selling beer to park visitors. In April of this year, the West Mifflin Borough council unanimously agreed and voted in favor of the idea. In order to make the proposal to come to fruition, the council voted in favor of a resolution to obtain the liquor license by transferring it from a McKeesport restaurant that had closed to the owner of Kennywood.
If Kennywood is able to gain definitive approval from the state Liquor Control Board for the license, the plans are to sell beer in a specified, fenced-off section within the park, to commence sometime after the school picnic season.
The specified area would be located on the north side of the lagoon, about 250 feet from the entrance to Kiddieland. It would be required that the beer is bought and consumed inside the designated area. The area would have only one entrance and exit. It would be monitored by park personnel who are taught how to check identification and recognize signs of intoxication. Park spokesman Jeff Filicko stated, “If guests do not know how to stop drinking, we can recognize the signs and make the decision for them.”
The proposal for beer sales was influenced by requests from the public as well as by favorable feedback to special Oktoberfest events where alcohol was served.
So, what do you think about the idea of beer sales at Kennywood? Take a second and vote yes or no in the Duquesne Hunky Beer Poll.
Thought you’d enjoy a few articles from the Times