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Linda Lange

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Member Since: May, 2012

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Blogs by Linda Lange

BAY BEACH MEMORIES
7/2/2012 7:47:15 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

Fourth of July means Bay Beach to me.

Do you have a special place that inspires nostalgia? Somewhere you absolutely must go when you revisit your hometown?

One of mine is Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I’ve been thinking about it this week because during my childhood, Bay Beach was the place to go for Fourth of July fireworks.

The park has been a recreation area for 120 years. In 1892, Mitchell Nejedlo purchased the land and built a dance hall, bar, and bathhouse. He hoped to sell summer cottage sites, but the road was impassable to horse-drawn buggies when it rained. In 1902, Nejedlo teamed with Captain John Cusick, who ran a steamboat down the Fox River to the bay. Cusick bought out Nejedlo in 1908. Frank Murphy and Fred Rahr acquired the park from Cusick in 1910. In 1920 they donated it to the city.

By the 1930s, Bay Beach featured swimming (soon phased out due to pollution), a roller coaster, shoot-the-chutes, a merry-go-round, baseball games, and dances. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the park as part of Green Bay’s tercentennial in 1934.

Photo by C. Linda Dowell

My Incomplete Passes companions frequented Bay Beach in the fifties and love to return. “Several times we’ve gone to Bay Beach to walk along the waterfront, but one year we also went to the small amusement park there. … The miniature train—once driven by my friend Judy’s father—still makes its rounds at the perimeter. With no grandchildren in tow, we passed up the tiny train, and Pam and I were leery of the Ferris wheel. But we couldn’t resist the carousel. It was shiny with a new coat of paint, but looked very familiar as we made our circuit. The young attendant assured us that it was the same one we rode as little girls in the fifties.” (It turns out he was wrong. That one was replaced in 1971. Oh, well.)

Judy’s father, Russ Widoe, held onto his engineer image and became a popular children’s TV host, Colonel Caboose. Until a few years ago, I had never realized that Russ was manager of Bay Beach until 1954. I simply knew him as Judy’s daddy, who drove the train. I did know that Russ put on a lavish outdoor production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado at the park. I was achingly jealous when Judy got to play a small part in the show.

My favorite attraction was the pony ride. I still have home movies of a tiny me, circling the ring on one of those ponies. As an adult, I felt sorry when I remembered the ponies, plodding monotonously in the sun. I assumed animal activists had done away with them. But the ponies are still there, operated by the third generation of the Van Bellinger family. I’m delighted that they evidently have been well-treated all along.

Fireworks displays began at Bay Beach in 1936, but moved downtown in 1988. Bay Beach was not only the first place I watched fireworks on the Fourth, it was also the safest. The showers of pink, green and gold sparks arced high over the bay and plummeted to extinguish themselves in its chilly, indigo waters. (Local joke: Explorer Jean Nicolet, who named La Baie Verte, caught it on an off-day. The water is normally blue. But Nicolet saved us from having to follow Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, in the atlas.)

Today the park is still a destination for locals and tourists, with forty-five acres, sixteen rides, seven shelters, a dance hall, picnic grounds, playground, and fields for softball and volleyball. A new roller coaster, the Zippin Pippin, was added in 2011. Happy Fourth, Bay Beach—I’ll see you soon!

Going to Green Bay? Want to know more about Bay Beach? Visit their website at www.baybeach.org/



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More Blogs by Linda Lange
• HALLOWEEN AS IT USED TO BE - Tuesday, October 29, 2013
• IT'S HER BODY, BUT ... - Tuesday, October 22, 2013
• ARE OLD LADIES CUTE? - Tuesday, October 01, 2013
• NONE OF MY BUSINESS - Tuesday, September 24, 2013
• TOM BROWNING SAVED MY LIFE - Tuesday, September 10, 2013
• SOCIAL SECURITY? ME? - Saturday, August 17, 2013
• THE TOUGHEST LOVE - Saturday, July 27, 2013
• GET OVER IT? - Wednesday, July 17, 2013
• EULOGY FOR A SUPPER CLUB - Tuesday, July 02, 2013
• I DON'T LIKE TO SEE MY HEROES HURTING - Sunday, June 23, 2013
• MEMORIES IN A BOTTLE - Sunday, June 09, 2013
• CULTURE SHOCK IN A '13 CIVIC - Saturday, May 25, 2013
• BAMBI GO HOME - Saturday, May 04, 2013
• WHAT FAMILY DOES - Monday, April 29, 2013
• THE TALK - Tuesday, April 09, 2013
• I SAID "NO"! - Tuesday, April 02, 2013
• BOOMER LIT - Tuesday, March 05, 2013
• A PIECE OF MY LIFE, ON STAGE - Sunday, February 24, 2013
• I MISS NEWSPAPERS! - Tuesday, February 12, 2013
• SOMETHING TO HOLD ONTO - Tuesday, February 05, 2013
• SNOW DAY - Sunday, January 27, 2013
• KAEPERNICKING, OR YOU GOTTA HAVE A GIMMICK - Thursday, January 17, 2013
• STILL SO INTO THIS - Monday, January 14, 2013
• A NEW START FOR LILY AND ELLIE - Sunday, January 06, 2013
• REFLECTING ON MY 2012 - Monday, December 31, 2012
• HONEY, HAVE THE STEINBERGS PUT UP THEIR LIGHTS? - Thursday, December 20, 2012
• REQUIEM FOR TWO SPORTS BARS - Saturday, December 08, 2012
• THE YEAR WE WERE REALLY THANKFUL - Tuesday, November 20, 2012
• MY CREATIVE FOUNTAIN IS A CHLORINATED POOL - Sunday, November 18, 2012
• CIVIC DUTY? - Monday, November 05, 2012
• FOOTBALL FASHION - Monday, October 29, 2012
• GREEN TOMATOES - Sunday, October 21, 2012
• THIS BIG ONE DOESN'T NECESSARILY BITE - Sunday, October 14, 2012
• THE KNEECAP - Saturday, October 06, 2012
• THE ROAD NOT TAKEN - Sunday, September 23, 2012
• EDUCATION OF A NEWBIE AUTHOR: LUNCHEON SPEAKER - Sunday, September 16, 2012
• A QUIET DINNER - Saturday, September 08, 2012
• BATIK AND OLIVER COME HOME - Sunday, September 02, 2012
• ARTSTREET AND HOMETOWN PRIDE - Thursday, August 30, 2012
• OF FOOD, AND LOVE, AND LOVING FOOD - Sunday, August 19, 2012
• NEW BABY/NO PETS? - Sunday, August 05, 2012
• I HOPE I'LL KNOW - Sunday, July 29, 2012
• CONFESSIONS OF AN INTERNET JUNKIE - Sunday, July 15, 2012
• SECONDHAND SMOKE - Saturday, July 07, 2012
•  BAY BEACH MEMORIES - Monday, July 02, 2012  
• HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TITLE IX! - Sunday, June 24, 2012
• THE CHAPTER MY HUSBAND MUSTN'T READ - Sunday, June 17, 2012
• JUNE, MOON, BRIDES AND ALL THAT - Sunday, June 03, 2012
• JESSE WHITTENTON RODE IN MY CAR - Thursday, May 24, 2012
• THE PACKERS HERITAGE TRAIL AND ME - Sunday, May 20, 2012
• THE HARDEST THING I'VE EVER HAD TO DO - Monday, May 14, 2012


The Mind of a Genius by David Snowdon

Set in London, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Australia. Special Agent Jason Clay from the British MI4 is hired to find a secret formula that was invented by famous British Sci..  
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