15th Annual Remembering the Sights and Sounds of Euclid Beach Park

15th Annual Remembering the Sights and Sounds of Euclid Beach Park

By Richard Wickens

The year was 1969. In July just about all Americans were sitting in front of a television to watch Neil Armstrong become the first man on the moon. In August of that year a music festival was held on a farm 43 miles from Woodstock, NY. In Cleveland on June 22, the Cuyahoga River caught fire for the 13th and most significant time. September 28 was a nice fall day in Cleveland; overnight temperatures were at 45 degrees with the day time temperature reaching 61 degrees. At Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, the Cleveland Browns beat the Washington Redskins by a score of 27-23, giving the Browns a 2 and 0 start under head coach Blanton Collier. The Redskins, under Vince Lombardi, were now at 1 and 1. Later that day, eight miles East of the stadium along the Lake Erie shore, Cleveland’s foremost amusement park, Euclid Beach Park, was just a few hours away from closing for the last time after 74 seasons. The park’s three remaining roller coasters would pull into the unloading platform with the operators proclaiming, “Wait until the train stops.” They did, for the last time.

Fast forward 50 years plus one day to September 29, 2019, to Cleveland Metropark’s Euclid Beach Park. Euclid Beach Park Now was preparing for Celebrating 50 Years of Fond Memories of Euclid Beach. It was scheduled to start at 1 pm, but by noon cars were pulling into the parking lot, their occupants heading for the park, EBPN’s Welcome Center, and the Euclid Beach Park memorabilia and history displays still being set up.

Euclid Beach Park Now is very grateful for the boys, leaders, and parents of Boy Scout Troop 143 from Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Euclid, OH, for their help with the unloading of the truck and setup of historic posters, tents, and other items. At the end of the event they were there for the take-down and truck loading. Troop 143 has been an invaluable asset for the annual event not just this year but also in years past. The event starts at 1:00 p.m. and The Troop was still involved with set-up at noon as people in new Euclid Beach Park shirts began to arrive. People who remember the park, now closed for 50 years, are up in years. Many were seen walking about with assistance, no doubt their child who, while growing up, heard parents share memories and stories of the grand amusement park.

Photo posters of major rides were set out as near as possible to where the ride once stood at the Beach. Over the years, in conjunction with the annual event, photo posters have been added to the EBPN collection which now totals nearly 200. Those not set out in the park were arranged in the picnic pavilion under the banner Memory Lane. Event attendees filed through the pavilion all day, stopping at the display items. One could almost read their eyes and facial expressions knowing memories of the old amusement park were going across their mind. EBPN board members Jim Seman and Fletch Milan led two walking tours pointing out where rides and attractions once stood, the few remnants of the old park still visible, and sharing some of the park’s history. The Rocket Ship Car and Thriller Car, owned by The Euclid Beach Boys, made treks all afternoon to and under the arch, the old main entrance to Euclid Beach Park, between the two high rise apartment buildings where amongst them still stands part of the roadway from the Turnpike ride.

The 15th Annual event featured band and grinder organs, arrangements for which were made by EBPN member Dan Wilke of Buffalo, NY. The band organs were set up around the concession stand where they had access to electrical power.

Band Organs:

  • Wurlitzer 153 owned by Ed and Carol Kraus from Media, OH

  • Shawn Patton from Sandusky, OH brought his Wurlitzer 148 Military Band Organ

  • From Bloomdale, OH, Joan and Terry Haughawout with their Wilhem Bruder (German Built) Model 79 Deluxe Fairground

Grinder Organs:

  • Bob and Marcia Elbert from North Ridgeville, OH, with their Josef Raffin, 20-note (German Built) organ

  • 20-note Castlewood (England) was there with owners Martin and Mary Jane Anderson from Seneca, PA

  • Pittsburgh, PA, Bob Buckler brought his 36-key Verbeeck (Belgian Made). The Verbeeck family has been in the organ building business since 1884.

A rough count of the participants in the car show, The Cars We Drove to Euclid Beach, totaled around 220. It’s always appealing to walk among the cars that show up, see how wide automobiles once were, how big the trunk was with room for a full size spare tire. Of particular interest to amusement park fans was the 1959 White Motor Company Cab-Over 3000, driven up from Bainbridge, OH by owner Barto Lane. On the bed of the antique truck were: The Twister ride car from old Conneaut Lake Park, an old dodgem car that Mr. Lane has motorized. He was seen in the afternoon driving the dodgem car around the park. A few other old Dodgem Cars were on the truck bed that Barto has converted to power lawn mowers. Making an appearance at the car show midafternoon was a fire truck, courtesy of the Division of Fire, City of Cleveland. It was backed in, adjacent to the Kiddie Hook & Ladder.

Besides Euclid Beach Park Now the other presenters for 2019 edition of the annual event were Cleveland Metroparks; The Euclid Beach Boys; and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture via a grant. Remember WIXY 1260, a Cleveland favorite AM radio station in the late 60’s to mid-70’s? WIXY 1260 on-line was reborn in 2011 playing a variety of music from the 60’s and 70’s and some 50’s. They are streaming live on the internet 24/7/365. They do remotes and were once again part of Remembering the Sights & Sounds of Euclid Beach Park from their big blue, inflatable studio. Other underwriters for the 15th annual event:

  • Cebar’s Euclid Tavern sponsored Balloon’s by Blake, who had a constant line of children awaiting his balloon creations

  • Great Scott Tavern donated the dash plaques handed out to the car show participants

  • Excalibur Auto Body, Inc. towed the Kiddie Hook & Ladder now owned and cared for by the city of Mayfield Heights, OH

  • Chili Peppers Mexican Grill, and Gus’s Diner 185 both on E. 185th

  • Kramer Printing Company who prints EBPN’s quarterly newsletter, The Arch

  • JakeWear Clothing selling Euclid Beach Park T-shirts and sweatshirts. JakeWear was kept busy all afternoon with the variety of Euclid Beach Park graphics offered on their product

Food at Euclid Beach for the event was provided by Swensons Food Truck. Of course the Humphrey Popcorn Company was present selling the famous popcorn balls and candy kisses. Weber’s Premium Custard was dispensing its frozen treat. New this year to the list of sponsors: Sugardale.

Participants set up in the Metropark:

  • William Kless, original artwork designs

  • Marvin Axelrod, professional photographer offering photos of carousels and carousel figures, amusement parks and rides

  • Kevin Smith, youngest EBPN board member, displaying his memorabilia collection and amusement books

  • Coaster Universe Preservation Museum, non-profit organization from Grafton, OH, had two coaster cars displayed

  • Collinwood Nottingham Historical Society, society information and historical items

  • Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society

  • Cleveland Metroparks

  • Two officers and their mounts from the Cleveland Mounted Police Unit. Plus Friends of the Cleveland Mounted Police, selling T-shirts and sweatshirts and accepting donations. Funds pay for all the horse-related expenses for the Cleveland Mounted Police Unit.

  • North Ohio Classic Parks, displaying items from Geauga Lake Park and Sea World

  • Sandusky’s Merry-Go-Round Museum provided information on the museum plus two volunteers working on the restoration of a carousel horse.

Midafternoon there was a slight sprinkle which did not damped the spirts of attendees. Grinder organ folk moved under a bicycle pavilion, some of the automobiles in the car show left in case the rain got heavier, and umbrellas began to pop up with attendees continuing to move about the public park.

Richard Wickens

Vice President Euclid Beach Park Now

Read More on Events
Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 4:14 PM, 11.11.2019