When I was a boy Coney Island in Cincinnati, Ohio was “the” amusement park. Sure, there were other parks, but none as close, nor as glamorous (in my opinion) as Coney Island. Most people only referred to the park as Coney. Coney is situated on the south-east corner of Cincinnati, Ohio on the banks of the Ohio River. Because it is on the banks of the river and in the flood plain, Coney is flooded almost annually. But one would never had known of this condition once the park opened for business. Coney was always clean and neat. One would never suspect that the area they might be standing in was several feet under water within the last several months. Coney boasts that the swimming pool, Sunlite Pool, is the world’s largest recirculating pool. I do not know if this is true, but to my knowledge, the claim has not been disputed.
One day each year my Dad would come into the room and in a matter-of-fact tone state “Let’s go to Coney”. I am sure he pre-planned the day for a while, be we as kids never saw it coming. We would pack a picnic lunch, pile into the car and off we went. The good news was, for most of this time in my life we lived in a nearby suburb and the trip generally took less than 15 minutes to get there. The itinerary was always the same, the morning was spent swimming in Sunlite Pool, then to the picnic grove for lunch, and finally we were able to go on the rides. That was my favorite part. Back then, there was no pay one price to ride all day. Each ride required tickets. If you were lucky and the park was not crowded, you could ride a ride, give the ride operator more tickets, and “go again”. This was particularly cool if you happen to get one of the “good seats” on any given ride.
In 1972, with the opening of King’s Island, Coney Island closed the gates forever. . . orfor a while. It was supposed to be the end of the park, and I think due to some type of non-compete agreement, it was not able to operate as an amusement park. I think the plan was to placate the locals by moving a lot of the old Coney Island Mall to King’s Island, where it still is today, though hardly recognizable. Over the past 40 years, Coney has slowly begin resurrecting itself. Each year something gets added. Concessions, kids rides, miniature golf, and more. Sunlite pool and Moonlite Gardens have never ceased to operate. I don’t know if the park will ever fully return to its former glory days. I am sure we will never again take a ride on the Wildcat or the Shooting Star or the Lost River or the Tumblebug. . . . .or will we?
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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Coney Island brings back lots of great memories. Part of the fun of the ticket approach to rides was going in the evening, riding a couple of rides and then watching the fireworks. All summer swimming was either the three foot deep Mt. Washington public pool or the pool at Coney. I learned to go off a board there.
Right, Eileen, I learned to swim at Mt. Washington Pool and dive at Coney.
Most of us would have similar memories. I would add Moonlight Gardens in high school and college. It was every teenager’s goal to get his date on the Lost River and “make out”.
I loved Coney! The day you describe was pure magic! Remember saving pennies all year in the standing up piggy bank with the glasses on the pig’s face? My first real job was at Coney and I worked there for three summers. I remember working in kiddie land on my 18th birthday. It was a cool beautiful sunny day and I was wearing a cable knit sweater that I just loved over my uniform. I remember being very happy and feeling like the day was a birthday gift from God just for me! I have never forgotten the feeling or the day! How can I possibly be 62 tomorrow? I am just a kid with the whole world ahead of me! My mmemories tell me so!!