Colors of Kennywood

For some reason, today I am really having an “I miss Kennywood” moment. I’m sure it started as I began to consider a subject that I wanted to write about today. Since we are having a rather overcast and gloomy day here on the shore, I thought about how, not matter the weather, Kennywood would always  radiate bright colors and excitement.

 I recall the fantastic job the groundskeepers did in maintaining the landscaping around the park. It was often cited as bearing a strong resemblance to Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli Gardens (or simply Tivoli) is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen, Denmark. The park opened on August 15, 1843 and is the second oldest amusement park in the world.

 In spite of the age of some of the older rides like the Racer, Jack Rabbit or Turtle, they would always gleam from layers and layers of enamel paint in the brightest of colors. The canopies and the posts that held up the entrances to many of the rides showed their age by reveling cratering from previous layers of un-sanded paint. Instead of being something that would be considered unsightly, the cratering actually added character and charm to the park.

 I decided rather than write a post today, I would rather provide you with some visual fodder that should stir your memory of Kennywood Park. The photos are ones that I took during my last trip to Kennywood, so they must be at least 10 years old. Enjoy!

The Windmill near the entrance into Kennywood

 The Old Mill

The Racer Entrance

Noah’s Ark

Merry-Go-Round Face

Merry-Go-Round Horse

Auto Race Sign

Gardens Near Restaurant

Entrance to Kiddieland

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25 Responses to Colors of Kennywood

  1. Susan says:

    I love reading your pages! I grew up in McKeesport so of course Kennywood was very much a part of my life.Thanks for the pictures and fascinating insights you share.I have been gone from the McKeesport area for many many years…but it is wonderful reading the posts and seeing your articles which bring me a bit of home again!

  2. cathy seeman gajdos says:

    I worked at Kennywood for 3 years my whole family of Seeman cousins, my grandma was Agnes Seeman, she did the cooking in the cafeteria. Boy I miss those days. Now taking my grandaughter woohoo

  3. mike palatas says:

    Thanks for the wonderful memories. I worked at kennywood for 4 years when going to Duquesne High. I graduated in 48. Working there taught me and hundreds of others, what it would be like when we graduated. Met a lot of people of different nationalities and loved it. Have not been back since 1953. I heard they now charge for parking. Love your stories etc. Now a resident of Florida but summer on Keuka Lake, NY. Mike Palatas 1948

    • John (Jack) Berta says:


      Was your brother Richard and you lived on Oak Street?

      • Mike Palatas says:

        Yes Richard was my brother. It was also know as Oak Alley. Richard passed several yrs ago with Pancreatic Cancer. Gave it a good fight but lost out. Wife lives in Monroeville. Kennywood taught me quite a bit. Will never forget it. Mike AKA Mole

  4. Bob Chermonitz says:

    While I don’t remember everyone from Kennywood I do recall Freddy Weber. In the 50’s & early 60’s Fred drove a ’56 or ’57 T-Bird, black in color with those little round opera windows in the top. My father’s evening job was on the Racer after his Union Railroad day ended. Freddy was a friend of his. If you recall Freddy had a square and somewhat rigid jaw and chin making him look, and he was known to be, mean. This was the result of a accident on the Racer in the 50’s or early 60’s. While working on a sticking air brake down along the tracks it suddenly released and hit him in the face! Imagine a force strong enough to stop a speeding train hitting a person. Needless to say it took awhile to put his face/jaw back together again. In the early 70’s his younger brother was a fraternity brother of mine at Cal State.
    On the color topic at hand I recall what was so important to me as a true member of the Kennywood family. Part of the uniform of belonging to the team. It was the somewhat light blue uniform shirt issued to most employees. It was short sleeve buttondown with fly-away collar. On one sleeve was an orange circle patch with the letters “KP” within. I believe we each got 3 and they had to be returned at season end to collect your check & bonus! I can still, in my mind, see them drying outside on lines all over town. Another color comes to mind, also. The dark green paint used on the restroom across from the arcade and up by the office. Always fresh and clean and manned by attendents to make certain that a visitor’s expeience was the best available. Oh, the rocking chairs and benches were painted the same green, too. 🙂

    • Lou A. says:

      Bob, I remember the blue shirt w/orange shoulder patch, too. But while you and I were there, didn’t they switch to the green and white striped shirt that made us look like escapees from the Ecology Prison? As to Freddy, he was a great guy, but sometimes the littlest thing would appear to set him off…( like my earlier post indicated)… then he’d laugh and you knew he was just pulling your leg. And yes, he had the facial expression and walk that mad you think he was a real hard case, not the nice guy he really was.

      • Bob Chermonitz says:

        Hi Lou! Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I only spent 1969 working at KP so I, thankfully, missed out on those green & white shirts. I spent the next couple of summers wearing “greens”, however, working for USS at Homestead Works structual division and National Tube Works in McKeesport. I was a crane hooker and this is how I worked my way through college. Yep, you guessed it, as a hooker. 🙂

      • Lou A. RPh says:

        So Bob, you went from a hooker to a drug rep?
        You have the product, you sell the product, you still have the product.
        Sounds like typecasting to me, LOL!

  5. Dave Holko says:

    Nice to see the photos of Kennywood. Along with others, I too have memories, having worked there with all the other high school kids over the summer. The Turtle and the Ferris Wheel. The KW gang and typical preopening antics. Anyone else remember them ?

    • Lou A. says:

      Sure do, Dave.
      In May, 1969 I started in Kiddieland (with Bob Chermonitz), then the Paratrooper, two years on (and IN) the Olde Mill, and then two years at the Lagoon, when they were rowboats. If rain or lightning cleared the water, I’d go up and help Tony Sacramento on the MerryGoRound. No safety fence then; everyone who worked the wheel learned the proper way to hop on/off at full speed without splattering your brains out…
      Tens of thousands of riders on large picnics (eg Penn Hills), free popcorn (bring your own bag, as concession workers only had to account for boxes, not how much popcorn the used), fireworks on Italian Day, Fall Festival and Labor Day, the parades… yeah, lotta great memories. I plan to be there AGAIN this year with Mom and my family on the Saturday before Labor Day for Croatian Day: barbecued lamb, “pivo” and tamburitza music. See ya there! orks

      • Frank Mullen says:

        Hi Lou, It was really nice being reminded of Tony Sacramento, of the MerryGoRound, in your message. Since I bussed tables at the employee’s cafeteria, I got to see him every day he came for a meal, and he was a unique individual. He certainly had his own style and way of doing things, such as the correct way (as you so poignantly reminded us) of mounting and dismounting the moving wheel. I miss people like him, from those days, very much. They were landmarks in themselves to those who knew and paid attention.

      • Lou A. says:

        Well, Frank, then do you remember Jack Valliquette(sp?) from the Turnpike, Felix the mailman from the OldeMill and of course, Freddy Weber, head mechanic? I’ll never forget him; once I reported a suspicious squeal from the water wheel that powered the Mill. His response was “I can’t fix something that not broke, call me when the G*dd*mn thing STOPS”. Yeah, memories.

      • Frank Mullen says:

        Hi Lou, My memory of those guys is vague, though I do seem to recall that the Olde Mill guy was something of a character, and having, myself, been a character – literally – in several of the parades in Kennywood, I may have interacted with Mr. Weber more than once, but I am not sure. I am interpreting from the “tone” of your reply that they may have all been a unique bunch, eh?

      • Bob Chermonitz says:

        Lou, I remember us starting out in Kiddieland. In those days, you’ll recall, girls weren’t allowed to start work until after Memorial Day. So all Kiddieland workers were male until the girls finally came in and were trained. Then we were dispersed to the “Big” rides. But do you recall every morning how we would all ride the little “train” cars that we cranked by hand as you sat with your legs stretched straight out? We would go as fast as we could and often turn over on our side in the bends! Reminds me of the guy on Laugh-In who would fall over on the tri-cycle while wearing a German uniform. We would start our day that way and laugh our heads off! Burt, our female manager, would just look at us all and shake her head. Done? Let’s get to work! And our 12 hour day began. 🙂

      • Lou A. RPh says:

        That was Arte Johnson ; as he use to say: “Verrrrrrrrry inter-es-ting, but Shtoopid!”

    • Alan Belancik says:

      This is Alan. I just got to ride the Black Widow at K-wood last week with my niece, Grace. What a trip! That and the Cosmic Chaos just about put me over the edge!!

      • Jim says:

        Alan, welcome to my blog!!! Hope all is well with you! – Jim Volk

      • Lou A. says:

        Hullo, Jawsy! (sorry, had to do that)
        Great to hear from you. We are all like “Ghost Ships” in the night, passing by the same spots at different times. I’ll be in Duquesne over Labor Day weekend – Croatian Day, of course. I take Mom as often as I can. You must be braver than I; that Greek so-and-so Arthritides insists that I avoid any ‘amusement’ that is too insulting to my skeleton, LOL
        Keep posting!

  6. Ron says:

    Great photos

  7. Frank Mullen says:

    I can’t possibly, adequately describe any of this in words precise enough (I’ll have to depend on everyone’s memories,) but the many attractions of Kennywood, in addition to the layers of paint (which you could smell, happily, as far as I was concerned,) also, had their own particular fragrances to them – all their own. For example, the “Laugh in the Dark” greeted you, as soon as you walked down that dirt roadway that used to lead into the park from the entrance gate up near the bridge and the picnic pavilion, with its own special presence that one could smell right away. Next door,the “Tunnel-o-Love” had a certain identifiable aquatic freshness to it, once you got into a boat and began gliding along its wooden “canals”. The floor of the “Bumper Cars” was identifiable by a metallic fragrance, as well as by its sheen. The “Jack Rabbit,” to me, always had the strongest wood fragrance of all the coasters in the park. And here and there, every so often, one could get a whiff of the grease that lubricated the many mechanisms that kept it all moving, which on a ride like the “Octopus,” made it possible for us to get our noses close enough to the moving parts to smell the grease. The “Auto Ride” (correct name?) provided its own special array of scents as we “drove” a small roadster, barely big enough for two, banging back and forth, along the corral-like roadways, right next to Kiddieland.

    Of course, the Cotton Candy, and the Kennywood Popcorn, tucked into its handy-sized box, had particular, attractive fragrances, too. And if you went to the only stand in the park that sold them, right across from “Noah’s Ark,” you could get wonderful, crisp, skinny French fries doused with white vinegar, which emparted a unique mouthful to those loyal to such an acquired-taste. Even the custard, sold only at that stand near the cafeteria and the “Voice of Kennywood tower/refreshment stand, had a delicate fragrance that enriched its flavor.

    I’m sure there are many other fragrances of Kennywood that others can recall vividly.
    I loved it all.

  8. Kristine says:

    These are some great photos! I grew up a 5 minute walk to Kennywood. It’s funny, our house and neighborhood were always quiet and peaceful. Sometimes if the wind blew in our direction you could hear the people screaming on the roller coasters, the 4:30 entertainment on the Lagoon stage, or the music playing from the calyopye. Funny how so much excitement was happening only a hop skip and a jump away, yet it never was bothersome or annoying! 🙂

  9. betty jean chase says:

    that was great !!!! i could name every pictures location before i even read the bottom captions !!! i really miss kennywood. i was last there on a visit to my cousins 4 years ago. i will be going again next summer. i just cant wait. i spent my whole childhood there weekly growing up. oh all those memories !!!! sooooooooooooo many !!!! thanks for the pictures and memories down memory lane

  10. Debi Levine says:

    New to your website and thanks for this post! I was born in Pittsburgh and left at age 5, but have relatives in the area and a lifetime of stories from my parent’s being born and raised in the region. Spending time at Kennywood was something special to them, and although I have been there as a young child have no clear memory, but your photos definitely highlight a special place from my parent’s past. Dad is gone, but I will share this with mom when we meet again. Thanks!

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