Amusing no more: Last ride for a U.S. park

Thu Oct 8, 2009 2:06pm EDT
 
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By Karen Pierog

MELROSE PARK, Illinois (Reuters Life!) - One by one the Kiddieland amusement park's 27 rides were shut down forever on Sunday, giving the highest bidders in an online auction a final spin, splash or crash on their favorites.

Memories at the park that opened in 1929 flowed like the free soft drinks at the suburban Chicago attraction.

"We're just going to take it one ride at a time. I think it's going to be tough when we get to the end of the day," said Mary Rynes, a member of the family that has operated the park since it began.

A tearful Bonnie Parker, of nearby River Forest, who paid $100 for her family of four to take a final spin on the Ferris Wheel, had been coming to the park for 40 years.

"I just had to be here the last day," she said.

Ironically, small, family-owned U.S. amusement parks like Kiddieland, have done a booming business during the economic downturn, said Craig Burda of the National Amusement Park Historical Association.

Reasonably priced and often close to home, the parks are an alternative to a vacation trip for recession-hit families.

FAMILY DIVIDE   Continued...

 
<p>A general view shows the Kiddieland amusement park in Melrose Park, Illinois October 4, 2009. REUTERS/Karen Pierog</p>