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Last Post 04/30/2014 2:22 PM by admin. 1 Replies.
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admin Senior Member Senior Member Posts:5170
04/30/2014 2:15 PM  
30 years after devastating fire Idora still holds grip on Valley

Published: Wed, April 30, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m. Youngstown Vindicator

Thirty years ago, a devastating fire sucked the life out of Idora Park. Thirty years later, memories of that amusement institution on Youngstown’s South Side continue to burn brightly in the hearts of tens of thousands of Valley residents.

Many can still feel the jerky thrills of the Wildcat roller coaster’s high and twisting hills, hear the sounds of musical acts as diverse as The Glenn Miller Orchestra to Blue Oyster Cult or relish the smell and taste of the park’s signature french fries.

To be sure, the flames of April 26, 1984, presaged the park’s permanent closing later that year, but they did little to extinguish our collective memories of the sensational sensory experiences the park produced.

And even though time and circumstance make rebuilding Idora Park and restoring it to its glorious heyday an impossible dream, Valley residents who share a passionate and uniquely Youngstown bond with Idora now have a tangible fix.

Thanks to the efforts of Idora aficionado James Amey, a monument to the greatness of the treasured urban amusement park has risen in Canfield.

Elements of original rides and attractions from the park fill the newly opened Idora Park Museum on Amey’s property. His collection of more than 500 items started with one small light fixture. More than $200,000 later, his showplace proudly displays Jack Rabbit seats, a bumper car, a Wildcat seat, an antique Hooterville Highway jalopy, a silver rocket ride and so much more.

Five hundred miles to the east, the spectacular Idora Park carousel rides again, fully restored in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, thanks to the long and tireless restoration efforts of Jane Walentas.

To be sure, the short ride to Canfield or the longer haul to New York City would be well worth the effort for Idora Park devotees. The park’s lasting allure, however, transcends its treasured physical remnants. Most importantly, Idora endures as a state of mind.

Youngstown at its finest

It is a state of mind of Youngstown at its finest. The growth of the park matched the growth of the city and its kingpin steel industry. The growth of the park mirrored the growth of Youngstown’s highly diverse ethnic cultures, many of which partook in festive annual picnics at Idora. Over the decades, its midway, rides and amusements became the backdrop for many strong friendships and lasting relationships. As such, the park emerged as a priceless jewel for which time has not tarnished its luster.

Truth be told, even though the fire 30 years ago dealt the park its most devastating blow, the handwriting of the park’s eventual demise was on the wall long before April 26, 1984. In many ways, the park mirrored the rise and fall of Youngstown. At a time when tens of thousands of steel jobs had disappeared and when smaller urban amusement parks found it increasingly difficult to compete with the Cedar Points, Kings Islands and other mega fun parks, Idora Park simply could no longer compete, let alone thrive.

Even in today’s increasingly revitalized Youngstown, chances are slim that anything closely resembling Idora Park could rise again on the fringes of Mill Creek Park. Its primary residence will remain fittingly but firmly locked in the hearts and minds of the legions who can still celebrate the slew of sensory thrills this iconic piece of Youngstown’s proud and storied past produced.
admin Senior Member Senior Member Posts:5170
04/30/2014 2:22 PM  
Idora Park museum closer to fruition

Posted: Mar 11, 2014 10:59 PM CDT
Updated: Mar 16, 2014 8:29 PM CDT

By Leslie Barrett, Co-anchor/Reporter - email

CANFIELD, Ohio - Plans for the Idora Park Experience museum are progressing.

Owners say the Canfield zoning appeals board approved their 4400 square foot building on South Turner Road could be open to visitors three weekends a year.

There will be an admission fee of probably five or six dollars to cover expenses.

Most of the items there are artifacts including Kiddieland train cars, a rocket ship, wildcat cars, a jackrabbit car, caterpillar cars, and a tilt-a-whirl car. Other items are Idora identicals that were not necessarily there and Idora like pieces.

"We do have the cotton candy from the original cotton candy folks from 1929 to 1984. They had cotton candy at Idora Park and her name is Tammi Anderson. She will be selling cotton candy here Idora Park cotton candy with the equipment but she will be making the cotton candy off site and selling it in packets here," said Jim Amey who started the Idora Park Experience with his wife.

They have the original French fry recipe from the park too but food is not allowed to be prepared on site.

Opening weekend is April 26th, the 30th anniversary of the fire at the park. The other dates are yet to be determined.

Parking will be at the building on 4450 South Turner Road and some neighbors have volunteered to lend space. The owners say money made from parking will go to charity.

For updates on the museum and more information, you can visit The Idora Park Experience Web Site.

The creators have also started an online store in which they are selling t-shirts with original Idora Park artwork from 1923 that ended up never being used in order to help cover expenses.
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