Two events for (all) the ages!

You could have fond memories of Rocky Point and Crescent Park.  You may want to learn about former Rhode Island amusement parks you never knew existed.  Or you may have been born before all these parks closed, and you want to see what you missed.  Whatever ride you want to take, the Rhode Island Historical Society will have one for you with events on Thursday, May 3rd and Thursday, May 10th.  And I’m proud to be part of both!

Here’s the RIHS’s description of the May 10th event:

Our dreamland of the past will be held on the grounds of the Aldrich House, featuring “fair”-inspired fare from some of Rhode Island’s favorite caterers, cocktails, Caserta & Bell’s photography exhibit on the Crescent Park Looff Carousel, arcade games from Spring Lake, Potter Photography’s photo booth, and plenty of surprises.
You can try your luck at our silent auction, and you’ll be amazed at the wondrous displays, just as you would have been a century ago in Riverside … minus the roller coaster, of course!
All tickets include food, drink, exhibit entry, and entertainment. Patron tickets are $150 and include the 5:30pm VIP reception with prosecco, small bites, sneak peeks, and exclusive access. General admission is just $50 per person, with a 6:30 p.m. entrance.

For ticket info, go to:

https://springforwardthinkback.com/tickets/

As for the May 3rd event, it’s the Netop Nights: Midway Memories Preview Panel” at the Aldrich House, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and it’s FREE registration.  I’m honored to be a member of the panel as its “Blogger and Rocky Point Park Expert.”

Here’s the RIHS’s description:
FREE Registration: “Netop Nights: Midway Memories Preview Panel” at the Aldrich House on May 3, 2018
As part of the RIHS’s Netop Nights series of free pop-up exhibits and curator chats, we’ll host a panel of enthusiasts, collectors, local industry leaders, and historians of Rhode Island’s rich legacy of amusement parks, arcades, and resorts.

Among those on the panel of experts is Ed Serowik, the caretaker of the City of East Providence’s circa 1895 Crescent Park Carousel.

Here’s Ed at work on the ride, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ed at work

I’ve known Ed since the early-1980s, several years after the Crescent Park amusement park closed.  I grew up a short distance from Crescent Park and my memories go back to my Easter Sunday visit at age three in 1957, seen below.

George Boat

I’m not going to into full details about my Crescent Park experiences, but let’s just say I thought of it as having Disneyland in my backyard.  And being a researcher, I kept hitting dead ends when seeking information about its amusements.  So, by the time I met Ed in the 1980s, I had a ton of questions about the park.

To be fair, Ed is much more than the carousel’s caretaker.  He goes way back with Crescent Park, and below is a photo of him near the Tumble Bug ride in 1940.

Ed 1940

And here’s Ed operating the Tumble Bug in 1958!

Bug

Ed has served in a number of roles at Crescent Park from carousel ring boy to assistant ride manager.  In the later role he helped manage and maintain ALL the rides.  To put this in perspective, you’ve probably all seen this photo of Crescent Park’s Flying Scooters ride.

600012468

Looks like a lot of fun, right?  It sure was, but it was also a challenge to maintain.  And guess who helped do that?  Below is Ed (at left) in 1957 on one of the Scooter sweeps, doing winter maintenance.

Flying Skooters

Ed worked with some amusement park legends during his career.  Seen in this 1964 photo below, Ed (flanking the Native American figure to the right) is working on displays for the park’s Iron Horse train ride with renowned artist Dom Spadola (at left of Native American) and international roller coaster designer/builder Ed Leis (far right).

Ed and crew

So when it came to my questions on Crescent Park’s Flying Fish, Laff In The Dark, and Riverboat rides (seen below), Ed had all the answers I was seeking!

Fish1Fish2

CP PretzelCP LITD

Riverboat Swamp GhostBand

 

Ever since the carousel reopened to the public in the mid-1980s, Ed’s been keeping the horses hopping…and happy!

CP LaCross Horse

And he’s hosted some dignitaries at the carousel along the way!

Ed and govdan-horenberger-ed-serowik-crescent-park-carousel

1375815128_9506

So again, I feel privileged and honored to be serving on this panel with Ed Serowik. If you want to learn something about this famous Ocean State amusement park, get it from the horse’s mouth (pardon the pun) at the May 3rd event!  Ed is an incredible source of information about Crescent Park!

So now you might be asking, “If you grew up near Crescent Park, why are you representing Rocky Point on the panel?”

The short answer is, I was fascinated by both parks growing up.  Rocky Point was easier to research because it operated nearly 20 years longer than Crescent Park.  The late Conrad Ferla, the park’s general manager, known for decades as “Mr. Rocky Point”, filled me in on many details prior to his passing in 1996.

Conrad46

I got to Rocky Point at least once a year since 1962, including this 1994 visit with my two nephews.

RP Tilt

But the opening of Rocky Point State Park in October 2014 was the spark that ignited my passion for it.  A few months after the opening, I was invited to assist at the Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) First Day Hike on New Year’s Day 2015.  The walk was attended by hundreds as seen in my photos below, and given the number and quality of questions I fielded, I knew that Rocky Point Park was alive and well in the memories of its fans.

Hike2Hike1Hike3.JPG

The enthusiasm of the DEM employees, one in particular, (she knows who she is) made me a believer that Rocky Point State Park was a true Rhode Island treasure.  Hence, I was determined to be the state park’s ambassador to the world with my event volunteerism, “At The Point” video series on YouTube, promotional collateral design, blogging, and much more.  My goal is blending the park’s past with the present while educating folks about the rich history of the amusement park and the magic of the current state park.

31073395_10215900129205301_4146233373108469760_nTour

Tower of StrengthBeach

  •  Grand Entrance
    In addition to Ed Serowik and myself, the May 3rd panel of experts includes:
  • John Bateman, General Manager of the Spring Lake Arcade and Fantasyland
  • Donna Houle, Special Projects Manager at the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
  • Dr. Ed Iannuccilli, Author and Providence Journal Contributor (moderator)

You can register for free for the May 3rd event at this link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeGydZW5nQTQW0YL9wbu5aJQa2P3FE98OzdqA-q__RoiG4_ug/viewform

Moving ahead to May 10th, and speaking of Rocky Point, a circa 1963 House of Horrors car is expected to be on display at that evening’s event.  The car was purchased and restored by Pilgrim High School senior Sean McCarthy.  Here’s a photo of Sean and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian at a Rocky Point State Park event last summer.  The car operated as one of eight ride vehicles in the Castle of Terror/House of Horrors from 1963 to 1996.

21078395_772490862937696_847320556533037221_n

So there you have it!  Hope to see you at both the Rhode Island Historical Society’s events.  If you do attend, please be sure to say hi!

For a brief video showing all of Rhode Island’s former amusement parks go to:

For more information on Ed Serowik, click here to read the Rhode Island Historical Society’s interview with Ed.

To experience a ride on “Ed’s Machine”: the Crescent Park Carousel, go here:

Photo Credits:

East Providence Reporter

Ed Serowik Collection

George LaCross

Anita Cerri Ferla

Thos Robinski

Tim Forsberg

Heather Medeiros

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Two events for (all) the ages!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s