Berlin, OH - Events of Saturday, July 25, 2015
Kennywood Park is an amusement park in the Pittsburgh area. Anyone who is our age and who lived in Pittsburgh will remember the iconic Kennywood directional signs like the one shown at the top of the post. They were on telephone poles on almost every street corner in and around the city. There are still some signs today, but not nearly as many as there were years ago.
Every year, the car dealership J. Michael works for, Colussy Chevrolet, has a picnic for employees and their families at Kennywood. The picnic was on Saturday, July 25. Since we are staying nearby this year, we were invited to go along.
We haven't been to Kennywood for years, and it brings back a lot of fond memories of school picnics and Lora's high school band performances. We were looking forward to going to Kennywood again not only to reminisce, but also to watch Lydia's reaction to all the lights, colors and sounds. We left Berlin and drove the truck to Lora and J. Michael's in the morning.
After arriving at Lora and J. Michael's house around noon, we waited for Lydia to finish her morning nap then headed to Kennywood around 1:00. After finding a parking space, we headed into the park.
Kennywood Park opened in 1899 as a trolley park at the end of the Monongahela Street Railway. Its purpose was to encourage people to ride the trolley. The park was built on the bluff overlooking the Monongahela River in a treed area of a farm owned by Anthony Kenny. Kenny's Grove, which had been a popular picnic area for locals since the Civil War, became Kennywood.
It was going on 2:00 when we arrived, and none of us had any lunch. Therefore, our first destination was the Potato Patch for some fries. The fries ($5.99) are available with numerous extra-cost toppings like bacon bits, cheese sauce and gravy.
After finishing our fries, we walked around the park to reminisce about some of the old rides and to see what was new. Kennywood has several historic, wooden roller coasters. First opened in 1927, the Pippin (now the Thunderbolt) was one of Paul's favorites. The unique feature of the Thunderbolt is it does not start out from the station by going up a lift hill. Instead, it immediately drops down into a ravine. The lift hill comes later in the ride.
Of course, any time you mention roller coasters, there is bound to be a discussion of which is better - wood or steel. Kennywood has newer, steel coasters as well. The Phantom's Revenge originally opened in 1991 as the Steel Phantom. It had the longest drop and was the fastest coaster in the world at the time. It is now 10th place or lower in terms of speed.
One of the newer rides that is a jaw-dropper is the Black Widow. Opened in 2012, this ride has a giant pendulum that not only swings riders in an arc that reaches a height of up to 146 feet above the ground, it also rotates. Riders experience weightlessness as the pendulum drops.
While walking around the park, we passed the Fish Pond. When Lora saw they had plush Minion toys as prizes, she couldn't resist.
Of course, we know there aren't many fish in the pond that are marked for the big prizes, so Lora ended up with only a small, stuffed green bug. However, while we were standing there, a man walked by and handed Lydia a larger, stuffed flamingo. He had won an even bigger bigger stuffed animal at the baseball throwing booth next door and apparently didn't need two prizes. Lydia was thrilled. She loved the fuzzy beak.
We knew Lydia was too small for most of the rides, even in Kiddieland. However, the Olde Kennywood Railroad was certainly tame enough, even for us adults. Opened in 1945, the narrow gauge railroad traverses the top of the bluff overlooking the Monongahela River. The ride features displays of old photos of the park while a recording tells about the park's history. The locomotives, which are gasoline powered, are from the 1939 World's Fair.
From the train, we headed to the carousel. The Kennywood carousel was originally built for the 1926 Philadelphia Sesqui-Centenial. When it was not completed in time, it was purchased by Kennywood and began operation in the park in 1927. The carousel has 50 jumping horses, 14 stationary horses, one stationary lion, one stationary tiger and four benches. The carousel is decorated with over 1500 lights.
Lydia enjoyed her ride. It's surprising how fast the carousel goes, but that didn't seem to bother her. She liked the wind in her face.
In addition to supplying admission tickets, Colussy Chevrolet also provided a catered dinner. After riding the the carousel, it was approaching dinner time, so we headed to the pavilion Colussy had reserved.
Of course, Lydia had a dinner of baby food while the rest of us dined on hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and cookies. After dinner we stopped at the carousel for one more ride before heading to the car.
Lydia, who had missed her afternoon nap, seemed pretty tired while sitting at the picnic table after dinner, and we all thought she would be asleep before we got out of the parking lot. However, the carousel ride must have given her a second wind because she was bright eyed for the entire 45-minute drive home.
From Lora and J. Michael's house, we headed back to Berlin, OH. We made good time and arrived at Scenic Hills around 9:30.
We have a new hobby to report on in our next post. Stay tuned.