The Storyland Playland board announced its plans for park improvements and the reopening of Playland in April.
The two historic attractions in Roeding Park in central Fresno, which were opened in 1955, were closed in March 2015 due to a lack of revenue. Storyland was reopened in September and has since had more than 25,000 guests come through its gates, park leaders say.
Playland’s public reopening is scheduled for April 22, with an invite-only preview on April 21 for disadvantaged youths.
A $150,000 donation from the Daniel R. Martin Foundation will help pay for Playland’s reopening. The foundation previously gave $200,000 for the reopening of Storyland.
Other companies and organizations helping to reopen the park include Lithia Motors and Rotary Club of Fresno.
“Today, we are celebrating the $450,000 we have in cash donations and park improvement projects for Playland,” board chair Scott Miller said in a statement released Thursday. “The need that remains is an additional $300,000 to secure a sustainable future for Playland.”
The board hopes the remaining amount can be raised through community and corporate donations. Plans for the park include installing a teacup ride in June that park leaders say will be reminiscent of what Playland once had.
Leadership Fresno, a nonprofit affiliated with the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, announced that this year’s class will help build a waiting area for the park’s Willis B. Kyle Express Train Station.
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article62601382.html#storylink=cpy
One of Fresno’s most beloved attractions got some special attention Thursday. About a dozen people spruced up Playland.
Work was well underway at Playland Thursday morning, as participants in a pre-apprenticeship training program put their knowledge and skills into action. “It’s an experience for them to do hands-on work in those fields and see where they fit and what they do well,” said Pat Barr, Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program coordinator
Barr said the six-week program will give these men a look at different trades, from ironworkers to cement masons to plumbing.
It’s sponsored by the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board and Local Trades Council. Twelve civilians and eight veterans are a part of the job-training. Veteran Shane Bartels is one of the participants. “I think it’s a great thing. I’ve learned a lot and re-learned a lot.I got re-certified for first aid, medical, forklift, I’ve relearned basic math.”
Bartels used some of his Navy knowledge and skills to help improve Playland. Now his goal is to find a career.
As a part of the program, the men will also learn life skills. “We do expectations. We also do elevator speech. Being able to greet people, being able to introduce themselves, present themselves in a way that people want to talk to them or interview them,” said Barr.
Barr said highly skilled workers are in demand and training now will pay off later.
Part of the program includes giving back and many were happy to help in any way they can at Playland. “I really like being able to help it out and restore it to what it was like when I was a kid, and pass it on to the future generations– my daughter and such,” said Bartels.
Officials said the volunteer work means a lot to this non-profit.
Playland is expected to open in late April.
Via: ABC 30
Big things are happening at Roeding Park. After months of fundraising, Rotary Storyland has officially opened its doors.
Once upon a time.
“It’s really an emotional experience,” Vice-Chairman Bruce Batti said.
There was a park created with one purpose: to tell stories. But over time, this park, deteriorated.
“There weren’t a lot of people here. It wasn’t in good shape,” Batti said.
But then, a group of people came to the rescue..
“We thank the community so much for getting behind this project, for letting us know they love Storyland,” Batti said.
Batti says their efforts started back in March. The group used Valley Yellow Pages to get the message out. Over time, envelopes with donations found their way back to the parks.
“Some of them with big checks, some of them with notes, handwritten in crayon with $2 in it, saying please open Storyland, we love it,” Chairman Scott Miller said.
Even 10 year old Jaida Jacobie pitched in, using her birthday as her own fundraiser.
“No presents, take all of the money that you would give me for my presents, and we’re going to raise $500 as a group,” Jacobie said.
Jaida was only able to raise 480 dollars with just her presents, so she took the last twenty out of her own savings.
“I just knew I had to save it because. They gave me the experience I wanted so I wanted to give that back to them,” Jacobie said.
Now thanks to the love from Jaida and everyone else who chipped in, Storyland is in full swing.
The first day already a hit with merry-go-rounds, storytellers, and even the train, all back on track. It’s a place parents remember when they were kids, and now want to share with their own.
“It’s something in Fresno we don’t have, something you can’t find everywhere, so growing up here, it’s just a memory,” visitor Allison Gregg said.
About $500,000 have been raised so far. About $100,000 has gone to opening Storyland and the train. Board members say Playland will be open by next April.
Source: Your Central Valley
One of the happiest places in Fresno is back in business. Storyland re-opened Friday morning, roughly six months after closing due to a lack of funding. The Fresno park was able to re-open due to half a million dollars of community support.
Friday young and old got to see that Storyland underwent a major makeover. The paint is shiny new, the trees look healthy again and the landscape has a fresh coat of bark. The train is also running again.
Dominique Martinez brought her girls and made it a fun day. “It was something not expensive. The kids enjoy it. I thought they would like story time which they did. It’s just really low cost entertainment.”
Storyland has been a fixture in Fresno since 1957. Susan Manuel remembers it then and couldn’t wait to share it with her granddaughter now. “She’s not even three yet but it’s just magical for her and you can see that in her face and her smiles.”
The creek is running again and the walkways thru the park are ADA compliant. The castle has a fresh coat of paint and for young and old the magic has returned to Storyland.
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.
- Around 100 people, mostly kids under 7, showed up when gates opened
- Private donors give nearly $500,000 to renovate the park
- Fresh paint, mostly functional story boxes revamp 60-year-old Storyland
On a warm Friday morning in central Fresno, a dozen small children are playing in a shoe.
This is nothing new; children have played in shoes, castles and cottages in these parts since 1955. But thanks to a community effort that raised nearly $500,000 and donated almost 13,000 volunteer hours in six months to renovate Roeding Park’s iconic Storyland, these kids are enjoying a much nicer shoe.
“We received checks for thousands of dollars, and we received notes handwritten in crayon with $2 inside asking for us to please save Storyland,” said Scott Miller, chairman of the Storyland/Playland board.
“So many people contributed in different ways. If you want to thank someone for this, thank your neighbors.”
Miller was flanked by vice chairman Bruce Batti at the 10 a.m. news conference before the official grand opening. Batti thanked several key donors and groups that contributed to the restoration effort. He specifically praised the Daniel R. Martin Family Foundation, which donated $200,000. Pinocchio’s Theater will be renamed the Daniel R. Martin Children’s Theater in honor of this gesture, he added.
The amount raised to renovate Storyland and Playland so far.
Batti drew the crowd’s attention to the Kyle Express, the park’s beloved train, which resumed its duties at noon Friday.
“We don’t need high-speed rail,” he said, referring to the California high-speed rail route that will run along the Golden State Boulevard side of Roeding Park. “We’re proud to run low-speed rail right here.”
Fresno City Council Members Oliver Baines and Esmeralda Soria also spoke at the event, as did Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea and Fresno County School Superintendent Jim Yovino. Each wore green plastic keys tied around their neck with a simple ribbon. The keys, a Storyland tradition, activate the boxes that tell different stories throughout the park.
However, 10-year-old Jaida Jacobie stole the show. Jaida donated her birthday money – and a little extra from her own pocket – to the cause. In all, she contributed $500.
“I had my seventh birthday at Storyland, and it was amazing,” she said. “I would hate for it to close. I had that experience when I was a kid, and they should, too.”
At 10:30 a.m., the gates to Storyland officially opened to the public.
Several field trip groups from Edison Bethune Charter Academy and the Central Unified School District were the first groups to enter. Around 100 grandparents, parents and young children followed closely behind. They encountered a clean, green park checkered with brightly colored characters from fables and nursery rhymes.
A green caterpillar of “Alice in Wonderland” fame greeted each at the entrance and asked them to find the other story boxes throughout the park.
Storyland officials did not have a visitor count by the end of the day; by early next week they hope to report the full weekend total.
The additional amount needed to reach the Storyland/Playland board’s funding goal.
Some of the older students noticed the changes.
Darien, a first-grader from Edison Bethune, said he visited the park last year on a kindergarten field trip.
“I saw a big bad wolf, and I got scared,” he said. “And the pirate ship was awesome.”
The ship, a fantastic wooden-and-metal re-creation on a rubbery blue ocean, now has real sails – a gift from Tent City Canvas House in Fresno.
Luis Figueroa, 4, said his father brought him last year.
“It was bigger last year,” he said. “But it’s been lots of fun.”
The park has undergone a noticeable facelift, but the job isn’t finished. Some of the story boxes still aren’t working properly, which Miller said has been a struggle for volunteers.
Several of the story readings need to be recorded over again, he added. The current stories and character voices were recorded by KMJ radio 580 talk show host Ray Appleton about 16 years ago. (Ray Appleton is Bee reporter Rory Appleton’s father.)
One of the first families through the gate discovered this work-in-progress immediately. A little girl ran right for the “Three Little Pigs” story box, inserted her key and turned it – nothing. Her mom took a turn with the same result.
“Sorry baby, this one’s broken,” she told the toddler. The family moved down the cement path to Humpty Dumpty’s wall, where the young girl turned her key and learned of a great fall.
Fresno’s Storyland reopened to large crowds over Labor Day weekend, generating $62,782 in total revenue.
The children’s park officially reopened on Sept. 4 after six months of renovations and upgrades including fresh paint, new landscaping, ADA-compliant walkways, and renovated restrooms.
Storyland saw 5,756 paid admissions over the holiday weekend as families were greeted by fairytale characters, face-painting artists, songs, dance, food and drinks. A special adults only “Happily Ever After Party” also helped draw nearly 712 community supporters.
“We were hoping that our efforts these past months would be well received by the community,” said Scott Miller, chair of the Storyland/Playland board. “The outpouring of support surpassed even our wildest hopes and dreams. The number of people who came out to support the park this last weekend is a statement made by the community that reinforces how important Storyland is to our children and families.”
Storyland admission prices will remain the same — $5 for adults, $3.50 for children and $4 for seniors —as the park remains open and the board continues to fundraise for future improvement projects such as the reopening of the adjacent sister park Playland, which is expected to reopen by April 2016.
The two closed their gates earlier this year due to lack of funding. At the time, the board estimated it needed $850,000 to reopen both Storyland and Playland.
Since the goal was announced, individual donors have given nearly $500,000, with an additional $200,000 matching gift from the Dan R. Martin Family Foundation
Once again stories will be told. “It is really a guided tour through a land of enchantment.” Says Storyland Board Member Bruce Batti. “We are working hard making sure it is a prideful place.” The water is flowing again on and colors are brighter than ever. Built in 1962, Fresno’s historic Storyland park has been closed for nearly a year. “It is a unique one of a kind property in the valley.” says Batti. “Currently we are at about $450,000 in money that we have raised.” After community support and donations board members were able to get the park back up to par. “The money was necessary first of all to bring the park back up from disrepair, things had to painted, sidewalks had to be repaired, ADA issues that we had to take care of.” adds Batti. Alarms, cameras, and the story telling boxes are all back on. The park will have eight employees, but its opening was made possible by volunteers. “I think this means hope for Fresno.” Says park volunteer Elaine Robles-McGraw. “I wanted to be involved so that other families and children could have the same memories that I did as a child.” Board members are hoping to raise another $400,000 dollars by the end of the year. Batti says he hopes more memories will be made when the park reopens September 4th. You can visit Storyland.com to donate or volunteer.
Storyland Grand Re-Open Friday September 4th!
Storyland will have its grand reopening on Friday September 4th! The doors will open from 9 a.m until 5:00p.m. Children will be able to enjoy new attractions, story time at the theatre, the train, and even a tea party! Then at 6:00 p.m Storyland will open its doors for an after party for adults only. There will be maraichi, food trucks, drinks, and much more. Come out and support such an amazing event!
As my diamond year starts July 6, my heart is thinking about a local park that needs our help to shine — it’s also the 60th birthday of Storyland and Playland.
Turning 60 brings a wealth of memories! When I moved to Fresno just before my 30thbirthday with three small children, my family spent many wonderful days at Storyland, introducing our children to theater, reciting nursery rhymes at each exhibit with our magic keys and riding the train inRoeding Park.
Years passed without a visit, then six years ago, we returned to Storyland with our grandchildren. Our granddaughters danced ballet on stage, recited nursery rhymes, pretended to be princesses in the castle — and asked to go back every week. When it closed, I couldn’t believe we could lose another Fresno treasure.
What do I want for my 60th birthday? More Storyland! Today I challenge all those who turn 60 in our diamond year to donate at least $60 to savestoryland.com and tell your family and friends this is how you want to be celebrated. You don’t have to be 60 — all birthdays will work. To donate, go to savestoryland.com and click on the donations tab. Your gift will be doubled by a generous donor! What a great way to start a new decade!
CATHY CAPLES, FRESNO