Hundreds of kids enjoyed the grand reopening of Storyland on Friday, while their parents relived childhood memories.
The 60-year-old park was shut down last spring. Its backers were out of money. But like the seven dwarfs, volunteers worked hard, raised money and the gates opened Friday, bringing back fairy tale memories for many.
But some adults who came here as children had trouble remembering the nursery rhymes that went with the displays. “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do…something about putting them to bed,” one visitor said.
The words may have faded, but for Erin Gilbert, childhood memories of coming to this park have not. She said, “This is just a really cool venue that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I used to come here with my mom.”
For Nicole Ashjian, it was a chance to let her children share her memories and build their own. She said, “We couldn’t be more excited. This park has so much nostalgia and magic, and to keep our childhood alive, it’s just the best feeling to take your kids and show them what you got so excited about.”
Thanks to thousands of hours of work by volunteers, the place has been cleaned up, fixed up and put back in shape. Community members and local businesses donated $500,000 to get the job done.
One tenth of one percent of that, $500 came from Jaida Jacobie, who turned her tenth birthday party into a Storyland fundraiser. She said, “It feels good. Knowing that you raised so much money to help save such a good thing, it’s great.”
But more is needed. Playland, the amusement park with rides, next door remains shuttered. The hope is to raise another few hundred thousand dollars to get it opened by spring, once again making Roeding Park the place Gilbert remembers.
“I mean this was just the coolest thing ever, to go here and then Playland and the zoo, you could hit three really cool things all in one day. So to have this back open and bring our kids here and share those memories that we have, it’s just an awesome experience,” Gilbert said.
With room for lots and lots of kids. As one park visitor said, with some prompting:
“We’re like the old woman in the shoe…”
“Who had so many children…”
“Yeah, she had so many children…she didn’t know what to do…so…She gave them what Mom?”
“Broth, without any bread…”
“And I know she put them to bed…That’s our favorite time of day…”
The kids should be tired after a full day at Storyland.
The park will be open Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Then the plan is to open it every weekend through the end of October.