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December 20th, 2003

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12:48 pm
Sadly, it looks like Allyson Bowen's throwing in the towel:

Dear Friends,

I want to thank those of you who supported the effort to Save Whalom Park by buying a Whale. Your financial contribution gave much more than money to the project. It showed the spirit of the community, the belief and the desire that Whalom could capture the imaginations of children for another century.

Many of the checks I received were accompanied by notes: memories of loved ones met at the Park, or of loved ones lost who had worked at Whalom. There were nostalgic stories of other parks torn down for development in other states across the country. These letters motivated me to continue working on the larger effort to build a coalition of investors and financiers to restore and reopen the park. Thank you.

I began the Buy a Whale campaign two years ago, in January of 2002. The efforts to save the Park began even before, when Whalom closed and the property was put up for sale at the end of the 2000 summer season. Now, as 2004 approaches and the fate of the property remains in limbo, I feel it is time to return your money.

As such, letters with a check enclosed were sent out on Tuesday, December 9, 2003 to all enthusiasts who had bought Whales. I wish, with all my heart, that I could be sending you season passes to the Park, instead of your money. But for many reasons, those that have been made public, and those that never will, it has not come to pass.

If at some point in the future it does, I hope that you will remember the same sentiments that led you to contribute this time, and join us again. Until then, hold onto those pictures and those memories of Whalom, or of any bygone place that makes you nostalgic for your youth.

Allyson Bowen

Now in all honesty I didn't expect Whalom Park to reopen. I knew those responsible for closing the park had messed things up royally, I knew the fucking carousel collectors had colluded to keep the carousel from being auctioned off for anywhere near what it was worth, and I knew the ballroom fire didn't help things either. But to see the Save Whalom Park campaign fall apart (and, nobly, they promised all along they'd return the contributors' money if things didn't work out) and to see the failure realized completely, well, it makes me sad. It makes me really sad. The park deserved so much better.

Now if only someone will mount a campaign to move and restore the Flyer Comet coaster...

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2003 08:05 pm (UTC)
There was an enormous push by most of the carousel community to raise a hell of a lot of money and keep that gorgeous thing right where it was, owned by a group of people rather than by Whalom, and the money to buy it would of course go to the park. The idea being that auctioning off a carousel is often the kiss of death for a park - there were hopes that this would help the park, and in addition, having it sold off piecemeal is as horrifying to the carousel community as the tearing down of the Thunderbolt in New York was to you coaster guys. It was such a wonderful, historical piece.

Obviously, it didn't work and the carousel was sold bit by bit to people who had more money or more bidding power. Whalom got more from them than they would have from us - the group just couldn't raise enough. I wish I'd had more money to donate to the effort - I donated exposure on my website, instead. I wish it had all worked. What a shame.
[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2003 08:26 pm (UTC)
I have heard that a group of collectors went through the carousel lot list, piece by piece, and basically parcelled out the individual pieces among themselves so that they weren't bidding against each other and thus were able to buy the pieces for far lower than they would have had to pay without collusion.

If this is true, that's the group of people I am very very very upset at. The carousel auction was the last gasp of a dying park, anything to keep it open for even just one more season, and if this really happened, then they pretty much stomped the nails in the park's coffin.

And that's what I'm mad about, really. I know the piecemeal sale was a foregone conclusion once it came to auction; I just wish the park had made more money off it than they did.
[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2003 09:45 pm (UTC)
I hadn't heard that, but it wouldn't surprise me. I was told that the group trying to purchase the whole thing actually went into the auction thinking they might manage it and came out of it with only the main frame of the carousel, with other people purchasing the individual animals. That would explain why. I agree with you that it would have been very nice once the piece-by-piece sale became inevitable if the park had made more.

The Flyer Comet is the coaster at that park, correct? What are the chances of another park coming in and saving it, do you think?
[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2003 10:20 pm (UTC)
Yep, Whalom has the Flyer Comet. A 1940 Vernon Keenan figure-8 design, with a tunnel added to the back bunnyhop in the early 90s. It's a rather sweet little ride, and the final curve to the brake run has a great little kick on it.

Unfortunately, the lift motor and other mechanical parts have already been removed and sold, and the track was cut up to facilitate the parts' removal. The coaster couldn't just be dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere, it'd need some extra restoration and renovation too. Plus you'd need a new lift motor and chain and stuff. I'm not sure if the PTC train has been sold, too. The whole thing is a damn shame.
[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2003 09:33 pm (UTC)
That makes me very sad. Old beautiful things should not be destroyed.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 03:05 am (UTC)


Yea, I heard about this a week or so ago. Its not totally unexpected to me, but sad nonetheless. On that note, it was brought to my attention today that the El' N' Gee club in New London has been sold and is converted into a urban dance club and that Lupo's in Providence is meeting the same fate. That was far more surprising (even though I knew the El was on the verge of closing as early as last winter) and very disheartening to me. Between those two, the Tune-In (Waterbury CT) and the Hanover House (Meriden CT), its like seeing a bunch of old friends die.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 03:40 am (UTC)
It's crap like this that makes me wish for blanket landmark designations to be codified into law. Amusement parks built by streetcar lines to stimulate ridership were early examples of pulling development outward from cities (that they were mechanical playgrounds was a bonus).
Shopping malls and office parks are the automobile equivalent of streetcar amusement parks. Oh, how the world has progressed.

Sorry for the vent...

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