New fun, old memories
Like “The Little Engine That Could,” Tahoe Amusement Park has kept chugging along over the last 44 years, managing to come back again and again to the delight of its mainly local young visitors.
Despite ups and downs in the last eight years, including going through four owners – and who knows what went on before that – the park has some newfound friends that are trying to bring it up to its full potential.
The new owner as of a year ago, Harry Mason of Brass Ring Amusements, an Oroville company that stages a traveling carnival called Midway of Fun, is “ambitious,” according to Ken Boyle, who has been the manager of the park since it opened in May of this year, along with his wife Linda Boyle.
“We’re here to enjoy it because we’re retired,” said Boyle, laughing as a squirrel runs by with a snack leftover from the previous day in its mouth.
A tilt-a-whirl ride had just been totally rebuilt, repainted and put together on the grounds a week ago and on July 9 Boyle was anxiously awaiting parts to get the kiddie merry-go-round up and running again. This would bring the number of rides up to 11, he said.
But Boyle pointed out that things did not look so promising when they first arrived.
“Last year the park was a mess,” he said. “It cost $9,000 just for the Dumpsters.”
Boyle said when Mason first purchased the park, half of the huge slide was torn down and an old train track was beyond repair, cut in pieces and lying in back of the lot.
Now Boyle proudly speaks of rides like the “Paratrooper,” which was built in the 1940s, spent its early years at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and ended up at Tahoe Amusement Park about 10 years ago.
Boyle says he’s surprised that most of the park’s visitors live in the area.
“We get a lot of local people. We’re getting to know people. I think that’s pretty neat.
“We had a grandpa with a 5-year-old here. He said she just won’t take her nap until she comes here first.”
The new owner, Mason, who is 44 years old, actually chose to buy the park because of his childhood memories of coming there, according to Mary Bell of Brass Ring Amusements.
“It was bought as a lark, because when he was little he wanted it,” said Bell.
Bell said even though Mason has poured more money into the park than he has made so far, he is planning on continuing to add features and hopes to eventually make it a place comfortable for company parties and picnics.
“He wants it to be first-class,” she said.
Boyle said Mason is not the only person he’s met who keeps coming back for the memories.
“It’s amazing the number of people we have met since we’ve been here who came here as a child and are now bringing their kids here,” said Boyle.