Eldridge Park

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Not to be confused with Eldridge Park, New Jersey, an unincorporated community in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
Eldridge Park
Location Elmira, New York, U.S.
Coordinates 42°06′54″N 76°49′01″W / 42.115113°N 76.816817°W / 42.115113; -76.816817Coordinates: 42°06′54″N 76°49′01″W / 42.115113°N 76.816817°W / 42.115113; -76.816817
Owner City of Elmira
Opened July 4, 1926 (1926-07-04)
Operating season May–September
Area 15 acres (6.1 ha)
Rides
Total 6
Website www.eldridgepark.us

Eldridge Park, located in Elmira, New York, was a famous amusement park around the turn of the 20th century. Covering roughly 15 acres (6.1 ha), it was dedicated to the memory of a local physician and was in common usage late into the 20th century.

Early in the 21st century, another local physician and friends decided to resurrect the central element of Eldridge Park, the carousel.[1] Their efforts have been largely successful and they have moved on to further enhancements and improvements of the park. It is rumored that the Eldridge Park Carousel is the world's fastest, though this is not yet confirmed. It is, however, one of only 18 remaining carousels in the United States with brass ring feeders.

In the early 1960s, the park included the now-famous carousel, an outdoor stage, an extensive network of picnic areas, a wooden roller coaster, haunted house, shooting gallery, bumper cars, several rides for young and old alike, Jasper II (a boat ride on the park's lake), eateries, a miniature golf course, and a small-gauge train that ran through the park, in addition to several other rides and attractions.

Eldridge Lake was believed to be bottomless in local folklore and, that there was an underground water tunnel that leads at least 20 miles (32 km) to the north, to Seneca Lake, one of the nearby Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. However, the average depth of the lake is 39 feet (12 m) and there are no known tunnels that connect Eldridge Lake with Seneca Lake.[2]

Eldridge Park has several soccer fields, used by the local travel soccer club, Soaring Capital Soccer Club, a skate park, and a baseball field.

History[edit]

Origins of the Park[edit]

A pharmacist, Dr. Edwin Eldridge, purchased the land where the park is today and built a sculpture garden. The city of Elmira later bought the land in 1889, after Eldridge died.[3]

One of the most iconic features of the park is the carousel which was originally built in the late 1890s and installed in 1924. The former amusement park had deteriorated in the 1980s leading to the carousel's owners selling the hand-carved wooden animals auction in 1989.[1]

2000's[edit]

On Thursday, February 23, 2003 a group called the Eldridge Park Carousel Preservation Society, headed by Dr. Robert Lyon, launched a campaign to restore the historic Eldridge Park carousel. Lyon's interest in the project arose after entering several of the facilities at the park including the roller coaster, bumper cars, and tightrope walkers. When entering the carousel pavilion, Lyon discovered that the carousel mechanism was still in place. Following this discovery the Carousel Preservation Society was formed, and the group began acquiring hand-carved horses, which arrived on April 23, 2003. On July 4, 2003, the carousel was rededicated though there was still significant work required in order to make it an exact replica of the original.[1]

On May 26, 2006, Eldridge Park officially reopened the Eldridge Park Carousel. With a dedication ceremony headed up by NBC News anchor and Elmira native Brian Williams, they revealed the carousel to the public as "An American Centerpiece Reborn.[1]"

Between 2003 and 2006 many other things were added including entrances, a gift shop, a stage, restrooms, park benches, and fountains.

In February 2007 the Eldridge Park Carousel Preservation Society announced that they would renovate the former whip building and turn it into a dance hall.

In 2007 the park announced that they would rebuild another ride for the park. Jasper II was a boat ride around the Lake located in the center of the park. Jasper II was built and opened on Memorial Day weekend 2008. They also introduced a new old fashioned arcade in 2008.

For the 2009 season there would be yet another addition to the park. The dragon paddle boats, were introduced on Memorial Day weekend 2009. A concessions building was also added.

2010's[edit]

In May 2010, the park announced that a new miniature golf course would be created. It opened that summer. The course has a traditional eighteen holes, as well as scenery including fountains, ponds, stones, flowers, and a waterfall. A miniature train ride was also built to circle around the course.

In 2011, Eldridge Park added a new horse to the park's carousel menagerie, named "America." This horse, donning stars and stripes, was unveiled on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The horse was added in memory of all of those who lost their lives on that day.

On March 13, 2012 the park named Ryan Alo, a Business Teacher at Southside High School, the new manager of the park. While there weren't any major enhancements to Eldridge Park for the 2011 season, the preservation society is still in planning for many more new projects. In the summer of 2012, the Thunderbird Flying Scooters returned to the park! While they no longer fly over Eldridge Lake, they remain an extremely popular ride.

The opening of the park for the 2013 season saw a complete redesign for the Eldridge Midway. Instead of pot holed blacktop, cement pavers, gardening, and Victorian style lights were debuted. Along with a brand new midway, the park saw the return of the children's Pony Cart ride and the opening of several different food vendors.[4]

For the 2016 season, The park announced the addition of two children rides. One ride being a boat ride and the other being an American Girl themed attraction. The park also announced an opening ceremony for the special opening of a record two rides. The ceremony takes place on May 27.

Current carousel[edit]

The current version of the Eldridge Park carousel boasts 56 animals available for riding, as well as two dragon benches. It is thought to be the fastest carousel in the world moving at 18 miles per hour.[5] Each animal has a name. They are listed below.

Alec - America - Babs - Bashful - Biscuit - Black Seinglend - Bob - Bosco - Butch - Cavalier - Charlotte - Chester - Clare - Dewey - Dusty - Eddie - Ernie - Faith - Frankie - Frivolie Folie - Garnet I - Garnet II - Georgette - Godfrey - Grace - Graham - Gruff - Hope - Inspiration - Kathie - Kingpin - Lucky Star - Majestic - Mary Kay - Old Glory - Oliver - Otha Yo Nih - Patronus - Pegasus - Prophet - Roar - Sebastian - Scout - Silas - Silver - Socks - Spirit - Sugar Candy - Suncatcher - Sylvia - Tennessee - Trois Femme - View from a Carousel - Westward - Willow - Zoe

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d http://www.eldridgepark.us/carousel.html
  2. ^ HELEN M. SAMSON. "From the Past: Fact or Fiction". Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Eldridge Park". Chemung County History. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.stargazette.com/article/20120313/NEWS01/203130350/Improvements-coming-Eldridge-Park-Elmira?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7ctext%7cLocal%20News.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Society, Chemung County Historical (2016-05-09). "Chemung County Historical Society: Going for the Brass Ring: The Eldridge Park Carousel". Chemung County Historical Society. Retrieved 2016-06-29. 

External links[edit]