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Park Review


Seabreeze Going Strong at 140


On August 5, 1879, on the shores of Lake Ontario in a district known as Sea Breeze, just north of the city of Rochester, New York, a small lakeside trolley park opened offering picnic groves, band concerts, and a hotel. This year Seabreeze is celebrating its 140th anniversary. It’s the world's twelfth oldest amusement park, and North America's fourth oldest amusement park. Why did it survive? How did it survive? Gary Kyriazi goes to Seabreeze to find out.


“Reinvention is the only way to go,” declares Rob Norris, President of Seabreeze Amusement Park and fifth generation of the family which became involved with Seabreeze in 1904. “It never ends,” he adds emphatically.


Carousels Builders And reinvent itself it has. Over the years, many attractions have appeared at Seabreeze. The creation of Raging Rivers Waterpark in 1990, however, signaled the latest surge of growth. Since then, new attractions have been added nearly every year to keep the park's appeal fresh. Acreage has also been added, primarily to provide additional parking. Like many of today's parks, Seabreeze is two parks in one. Guests can enjoy both the rides of Seabreeze and the water slides of Raging Rivers for a single pay-one-price pass, or choose from a variety of price options. Visitors to the ride park will find it has a turn-of-the-century feel to it, with Victorian buildings, soft colors, and traditional floral landscaping. The waterpark has a contrasting modern look with white structural steel, seashore landscaping, and contemporary graphics. The family's genesis in the amusement industry were


brothers Edward F. Long and Fielding Long, who began building carousels in 1876 in England. If the heart of the outdoor amusement industry is one of families entertaining families, then it is personified by the legacy of the Long family. The family began in the American amusement business by assembling and building carousels in Philadelphia in the late 1890s. They had previously operated carousels in England before seeking new opportunities throughout the northeast


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United States. One of the places they settled was in Rochester, where Arthur Long operated a carousel on Ontario Beach from 1892 to 1907. George Long, Sr., Arthur's brother, worked there before operating his own carousel at Cape May, New Jersey, in 1899 and 1900. In 1901 he moved to Burlington Island, near Philadelphia, where it operated for two years. In 1903 he relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, but his ride wasn't doing very well there when Arthur wrote to him about opportunities at Seabreeze. In 1904 they brought one of their carousels to Seabreeze to operate as a concession. Only the Trimper family of Ocean City, Maryland, has been associated longer with a park. They lived in the carousel's back room during the summer, and with their families in Philadelphia during the winter. But Edward's 12-year-old grandson, George W. Long Jr., fell in love with Seabreeze, and with Rochester, New York, and he dedicated his life to the both.


Dreamland Seabreeze's evolution from picnic grounds to an amusement park mirrors that of America's other trolley parks: a steam- driven carousel in 1883, a switchback roller coaster in 1887, a Figure Eight roller coaster in 1903, the Long brothers' carousel in 1904. Along came a Giant Circle Swing in 1908, the Laughing Mirror Gallery in 1914, and a succession of “modern” roller coasters with the Dips in 1916 (renamed the Greyhound a few years later and which ran until 1933), and in 1920, Seabreeze's surviving coaster, the superb Jack Rabbit, featuring John Miller's signature use of gullies and ravines.


JUNE 2019


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