9th Annual Remembering the Sights and Sounds of Euclid Beach Park
September 29, an early fall Sunday in Cleveland. The week before, the Cleveland Browns won their first 2013 football game over the Minnesota Vikings. Could they win today over state rival Cincinnati Bengals? The Cleveland Indians had an afternoon game, playing to clinch the home field for their first playoff appearance in six years. Despite this competition it appeared Euclid Beach Park Now's ninth annual event held at the former site of Euclid Beach Park may have set a new attendance record. Turnout of previous years was estimated at up to 3,000. Looking toward the parking lot one saw all spaces taken and looking toward the park one saw a multitude of individuals taking in the events scheduled from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Weather was excellent: temperatures in the lower 70's, a slight breeze, partly cloudy, and no rain. The event is seeing more younger families attending, members of which were not even born when the park closed at the end of its 1969 season.
The 2013 installment was presented by Euclid Beach Park Now (EBPN), the Euclid Beach Boys and this year by Cleveland Metroparks who took over management of Cleveland's Lakefront Parks from ODNR in June. Those who attended the event in past years noted improvements to the park made by Cleveland Metroparks: more trash receptacles, presence of maintenance staff and park rangers, and the clean-up of undergrowth west of the pier. The foundation of the old fountain was cleared of weeds. The event was made possible by grants from Neighborhood Connections, a small grant program of the Cleveland Foundation, and the Cleveland Lakefront Parks Conservancy. A big THANK YOU to Boy Scout Troop #143 from Our Lady of the Lake Parish from Euclid for help with event set-up and tear-down.
Adjacent to the parking lot was the "Welcome Center." Here a visitor could pick up a reprint souvenir postcard of the Fountain with a schedule of events printed on the reverse side. Information on Euclid Beach Park Now was available including membership and previous copies of the organization's quarterly newsletter, "The Arch." Visitors could also purchase raffle tickets for a gift basket, proceeds from which will go toward a permanent commemorative marker to be placed at the park next year. The gift basket had an approximate value of $200, made possible by donations of gift certificates from the following East 185th Street neighborhood merchants: Buettner's Bakery, Chili Peppers Mexican Grill,Euclid Garden Center, Lucky's Restaurant, Martin's Men's Wear, Muldoon's Saloon and Eatery, Vince's Barber Shop, and R&D Sausage Co. located on Waterloo. Rounding out the gift basket prizes were four tickets for the 2014 season of Conneaut Lake Park. This year's commemorative marker pays homage to the Pier and Fountain, and was unveiled at 3:00 p.m. with a brief dedication ceremony officiated by Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek. The new marker joins two others previously placed at the park, one for the Carousel and the other for the Coasters.
Laughing Sal was on hand in the picnic pavilion to greet guests who could also check out new Euclid Beach Park t-shirts and sweatshirts, park memorabilia items, EBPN's Euclid Beach Park book published by Arcadia, "A Euclid Beach Park Album" authored by James A. Toman which was present with other Cleveland-related books published by Cleveland Landmark Press. Adjacent to the pavilion were the booths of William Kless, artistic storyteller, not in words but in pictures of the past, Weber's Premium Ice Cream dispensing frozen custard, and a booth where one could obtain the famous Humphrey popcorn balls and candy kisses. The Rocket Ship and Thriller Car were available all afternoon for rides. They are owned by the Euclid Beach Boys along with some of the other Euclid Beach Park memorabilia that was on display: Flying Turns and Racing Coaster ride cars, Dodgem car, and one of the ponies from the Kiddie Rodeo. The Boys also brought the Artizan band organ which played the songs representing "Sounds Remembered" when it sat under the loading platform of the Rocket Ship ride.
EBPN's eldest board member Rudy Nagode, at age 94, had his Euclid Beach Park memorabilia on display, set up with the help of his son Larry. His exhibit included photos of Hollywood Stars that were dispensed from coin-operated machine's in the park's Arcade. Along the walkway near the bluff was a very young exhibitor born two decades after the park closed, 24-year-old Kevin Frederick Smith. Kevin started collecting Euclid Beach Park memorabilia just a few years ago, items he has found on eBay. He also writes poetry and has had a book of his poems published which includes one of two poems he has written about Euclid Beach Park.
Walking tours were made available three times during the event. Individuals could take a self-tour using large 24" X 36" posters placed throughout the park where the original ride or attraction stood. Each had five photos of the ride or attraction with a descriptive text box. These improved posters from past years were first implemented at last year's event with grant funds from Neighborhood Connections. Since last year the balance of the posters were updated, paid for by donations from EBPN members.
Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society had a booth, and on display were two of the four replacement horses EBPN members donated to have carved. When the carousel was undergoing restoration on return to Cleveland, it was discovered that four of the original horses were missing. Available was information for Society membership and donation opportunities for the project. All of the original horses and the two chariots from the Euclid Beach Park Carousel are now in the completed carousel pavilion connected to the Western Reserve Historical Society.
Across from the Society's booth was one from Northern Ohio Classic Parks with a display of memorabilia from one of Euclid Beach Park's competitors,Geauga Lake Park. Another old amusement park, Conneaut Lake Park, located in Northwest Pennsylvania and still operating, was represented at the event with an information booth. If one was looking for more local history, under a large tent were the Collinwood Nottingham Historical Society, Old Brooklyn Historical Society, West Park Historical Society, and the Woodland Street Cemetery Foundation. The Midwest Railway Preservation Society located in the historic B&O roundhouse on West 3rd had a booth with information and old railroad photos from the Steam Era. Present with their "Once and Future" Euclid Beach Pier photo backdrop was Adopt-a-Beach: Euclid Beach Team, part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. For the very young, pony rides were available. Celestial Treats had their food trailer stationed at the East end of the park for those looking for a hot dog, bag of chip, a pop or fresh squeezed lemonade.
In and around the circular drive area of the park was the car show, "The Cars we Drove to Euclid Beach Park" This year's car show also set a record of attendees with 70 vintage cars showing up.
2014 will see the 10th Annual Remembering the Sights and Sounds of Euclid Beach Park, always held on the last Sunday in September. That day on September 28, 2014, happens to be the date in September of 1969 that Euclid Beach Park closed. Being the 10th anniversary and exactly 45 years since the park closed, plans are to make the 2014 event very special. Another permanent marker will be installed. At this year's event a survey was available for attendees at the "Welcome Center" to determine which ride or attraction should be commemorated.
Vice President, Euclid Beach Park Now