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Interestingly, John Miller used the two levels of the park for the design of Midway's 1925 Jack Rabbit coaster, working with the levels as he did for his 1920 Jack Rabbit at nearby Seabreeze in Rochester, and his 1921 Jack Rabbit at Kennywood in Pittsburgh. Midway's Jack Rabbit loaded at the lower lake level, its lift followed the natural rise up to the top level, where it performed some dips before diving back down to the lower level for the finale. Sadly and typically of classic wood coasters, Midway's Jack Rabbit was removed around 1939. Beyond the significant task of renovation and restoration, what hopes does Hillman have for future expansion? “Oh, it would be great to have, say, a rebirth of the Jack Rabbit coaster, but we have to be realistic. At this point, due to the current fiscal condition of New York State, we're not doing any large ride purchases. If we did make a ride purchase it would be to replace our Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel, which just wore out and had to be removed around 1979. So we're mainly working on the infrastructure, with the emphasis on the historical theme.While digging out an area for a volleyball court, we uncovered some of the original trolley tracks and ties, so we're thinking about excavating the whole thing and obtaining or replicating a trolley car. And how has the State of New York taken to running an amusement park? “Well,” Hillman smiles,


“for me, the amusement industry has been a real learning curve. I've been involved with state parks but never amusement parks. I can certainly see how people become hooked in this industry. But as far as the state is concerned, to be honest, it's difficult to make an amusement park profitable within any government agency, so New York is putting out requests for management proposals. The only concession we have at this time is the vending, so we're now looking for a management company.” Any takers out there? It could be the chance of a life time: bringing Midway Park back to its grand old self.


Government-run fun


Midway Park is the smallest trolley park still operating in the USA. At the other end of New York State is the largest, Playland in Rye. Coincidentally, it is also government owned. But while Midway is flourishing under New York State operation, Playland is loosing between $3 and $5 million annually under Westchester County's guidance. The county is now soliciting ideas. Closing the money- losing amusement park would save taxpayers $2 million in 2012 and remains an option – hoppefully that won’t happen.


Kids have fun on the Mangels Roto-Whip


NOVEMBER 2011


51


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