Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kiddieland closing

All things must pass and Kiddieland in Melrose Park, the last of the privately owned amusement parks in the Chicago area will close at the end of the year.

It is a sad day indeed as this marks not only the end of an era, but the end of yet another unique place that set this part of the world apart from everywhere else.

Nest year when they replace Kiddieland with a Target, Walmart or whatever, the vast suburban wasteland of strip malls that begins at the Fox River in St. Charles, will extend almost un-broken all the way to River Road in Melrose Park, a stretch of about 25 miles.

It's hard to blame the owners for not turning down the big pay day after 80 plus years of running a place that provided simple entertainment for families with small children. Those of us who spent time there can thank them for the happy times in their little amusement park.

I'm sad to say that we never brought our kids there. No good reason. I suppose that I thought it would always be there, despite all the news to the contrary. Maybe it was just a little too out of the way. We just never made it.

Perhaps this year, although it might just be too sad.

My family moved to Oak Park in 1968 and I went to Kiddieland only occasionally. It really paled in comparison to Riverview but after the great park closed in 1967 Kiddieland was the only amusement park around unless the folks were willing to drive to the distant 'burbs to Adventureland or Santa's Village. Neither place I remember very well save for the ads they would have every week on the back pages of the TV guides in the Sunday papers.

The last time I was at Kiddieland was probably 35 years ago when you just paid for the rides which were maybe 25 cents each. My favorite was the bumper cars. At first they scared me but eventually I grew used to them and began to ram the other cars with relish. They had a little roller coaster called the Little Dipper which couldn't have been more appropriately named. While I was never a big roller coaster fan, this one I could easily handle.

That and the arcade where they had speedball where you rolled a ball up a ramp and got points which added up to prizes, depending on where the ball landed...

Like I said, simple fun for little kids.

The best part now that I think about it was, is still the wonderful sign announcing the place, two little kids swinging around a maypole with block letters spelling out "Kiddieland".

I imagine someone will buy the sign, maybe it will end up at a historical museum somewhere.

There was once a roller rink nearby which I've heard is long gone. Also a drive in theater, even longer gone.

Too bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's to bad they can't move it to another location since you know they're going to sell it all and have to move it anyway