Clementon Amusement Park
|Location||Clementon, New Jersey, United States|
|Owner||Premier Parks, LLC|
|General Manager||Daniel Jankovits|
|Operating season||Memorial Day through Labor Day|
Clementon Park and Splash World is a mid-sized combination theme park and water park in Clementon, Camden County, New Jersey, United States. Also known as Clementon Lake Park, it is one of the world's oldest operating amusement parks and is one of only thirteen trolley parks still operating in the United States. It is owned and operated by Premier Parks, LLC.
The park was founded in 1907 by New Jersey Assemblyman Theodore B. Gibbs (October 17, 1838 – October 27, 1909) and his sons, Edgar B. and Willard. Theodore Gibbs was a Civil War veteran who was a Corporal in Company D, Twenty-ninth New Jersey Volunteers. He held many local offices including Postmaster and Sheriff; he was also a member of the Atlantic City Railroad's Board of Directors.
The amusement park was a popular destination in the early decades of the twentieth century with a trolley running from Camden, New Jersey to the park entrance. In the early twentieth century, amusement parks were built at the end of trolley lines to encourage weekend ridership.
In the 1920s, the park included a nickelodeon movie theater, a "dancing casino", a steam-driven carousel, the Jack Rabbit roller coaster and a "razzle-dazzle" ride. The Jack Rabbit roller coaster was considered state-of-the-art when added to the Park in 1919 for the cost of $80,000.
On June 22, 1931 a fire almost destroyed the amusement park. According to The New York Times, "a vivid pyrotechnic display and the successive reports of exploding cartridges added to the spectacular aspect of a fire which swept through part of Clementon Park, a South Jersey pleasure resort." The fire had reached the cartridge supply of the shooting gallery, setting off explosions. Firemen from six adjoining towns fought the fire which was contained to the shooting gallery and a "pretzel ride." The damages were estimated to be $2000.
Socialist Presidential Candidate Norman Thomas campaigned at Clementon Park in 1932. In a July 4 speech in front of 3,500 people, Thomas said, "It is not against foreign domination we must fight, but against a system that denies us bread, security and any assurance of peace. The men of 1776, in convention assembled at Philadelphia, found no successors in the old party conventions at Chicago in 1932."
In 1936, Philadelphia boxer Al Ettore trained at Clementon Park for the heavyweight title fight against Joe Louis to occur in Philadelphia on September 22, 1936. Thousands of fight fans visited the park to see Al Ettore train. On September 20, 1936 a 100-foot (30 m) section of grandstand collapsed under the weight of about 500 spectators. No one was seriously injured.
Throughout the 1930s to 1950s, Clementon Park's ballroom hosted dance marathons that were hosted by various celebrities such as Red Skelton and Dick Clark. Clementon Park survived the Depression by holding these marathons, offering a $100 prize to partners who lasted the longest.
In 1977, the Gibbs family sold Clementon Lake Park to Abram Baker (1904–1994). Baker owned a nightclub in Miami, Florida and the Fascination Parlour in Atlantic City, New Jersey (see Fascination). From 1955 to 1968, he owned Glen Echo Park, Maryland.
In 1979, operation of the park was turned over to Larry Baker, Abe's son.
In 2007, the park was purchased by Adrenaline Family Entertainment for an undisclosed amount. In 2008, the New Era of Clementon Park began. Over the next three years, Adrenaline Family Entertainment would make major renovations and add attractions to bring renewed life to the park. Laguna Kahuna, a large interactive water playland was added in 2008, followed by Ring of Fire and Thunder Drop in 2010, and Torpedo Rush in 2011. Big Wave Bay was added in 2012.
- "Images of America, Clementon". Arcadia Publishing. 2007
- "Obituary: Assemblyman Theodore B. Gibbs". New York Times. October 28, 1909.
- Clementon: The Residue of Design. Courier Post. October 2006.
- "Obituary: Abram Baker Amusement Park Owner". page 4B, Miami Herald. July 3, 1994.
- "Clementon Park sold to investors". CourierPostOnline. November 22, 2011.