Joyland artifacts dispersing to collectors and preservationists

Posted Monday, May 12, 2014 8:43 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A day after it was announced that Joyland owner Margaret Nelson Spear had donated the merry-go-round to Botanica, a local historic preservation group began taking possession of six items it had purchased from her. That included a clown sign, which greeted visitors at the park’s entrance for decades before Joyland last closed in 2006.

Read more from The Wichita Eagle.

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Monday, May 12, 2014 4:25 PM

It was great news to hear that Ms. Spear had donated the merry go round to Botanica. I did a little digging and found some great photographs of the ride, it's an Allan Herschell piece and was a good looking machine with some great figures. Hopefully it's not in too bad a shape and can be restored nicely. May it live long and entertain many.

Both the electric park sign with the clowns and the street sign that served as the park's billboard are fabulous. Just the kind of relics that define a certain period in American amusement park art and architecture. I'm glad to hear that the other pieces were saved, too, especially the giant shoe. I remember seeing similar things at amusement parks when I was a kid. Lesourdsville had one with a steep metal slide down through the shoe with the exit through the toe, and this seems similar.

Joyland was also home to one of the last Wurlitzer giant band organs. The park installed a piano playing robotic clown in front of it, and stories go that (kind of like Laffing Sal) he served to not only entertain but thoroughly frighten children who saw him. His creepiness left a mark on many locals that lasted right through adulthood. I've tried to find out what ever happened to Louie, as well as the organ, but can't seem to locate any info. I'll keep looking.

Poor Joyland. The stories over the years of fires and vandalism have been heartbreaking. I never got there, but I bet it was a place I'd have really liked. When I first became an official enthusiast I remember hearing guys talk about the park and it's wooden coaster, which they said was pretty good. It had the last example of a particular style of PTC train, with rings on the side for grab bars. It's was fun to see in the article that Ms. Spears still holds out hope that it will find a home, noting she heard of a ride in the south that had been relocated and reassembled in Pennsylvania. :-)

So God bless the Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County for doing this. I hope to be able to view the collection someday.

Edit to add: found something from 2008. There's a YouTube vid of this guy in action, too. Yikes!

http://prettyfrank.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/update-on-joyland-clown/

Last edited by RCMAC, Monday, May 12, 2014 4:33 PM
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