Pittsburgh area man organizes rally for Geauga Lake's Big Dipper

Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:57 AM | Contributed by Jeff

David Mitchell of Cranberry, PA has organized what he is calling a "town hall meeting" to celebrate the Big Dipper at noon Saturday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars across the road from the former Geauga Lake Park in Aurora. It's for people to share memories of the park and the ride. Two experts on coasters will speak.

Read more from The Post-Gazette.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009 1:25 AM

It's called a logical construct. You are a very deft debater, and I suspect you know full well I did not suggest amusement parks are as priceless as great works of art. What I was explaining is that if you love x, you don't have to have personally experienced a particular example of x in order to be sad it's gone. The same could be said if I had used churches, drive-in theaters, or any other admired bit of historic Americana.

I'm not sure you read my post very well. Nobody -- or at least not me -- is labeling you a "bad enthusiast". I thought I had gone out of my way to speak otherwise. You are entitled to your viewpoint as much as the next guy, but yours isn't the only acceptable or reasonable perspective on the matter.

Now if you don't want people posting on your site about how much they miss this or that park, or how they regret never getting to it, or how important a particular park or ride might be in the history of the industry, please let me know, sir.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009 1:44 AM

You can post whatever you want as long as it's relevant. Please don't pull that card... it implies all kinds of things that you know aren't true.

Again, you painted a very broad stroke and I was saying how it's just not that easy to make the generalization. And while you personally may not have called me out (not exactly, anyway), other similarly nostalgic folk seem to bring up the "how could you?" stuff constantly, and it annoys me.

At the end of the day, GL or the Dipper or whatever will sit on whatever value scale you want, and that's fine. I just grow weary, whether it's from you or not, of the constant notion that we should all be as touchy-feely over it as some people are.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009 2:12 AM

Although I don't believe I made an overly broad generalization (I did use the term 'good chance'), I concede how it could be perceived that way.

Fair enough on your other points. I'll try not to hit you or anybody else over the head with sanctimonious self-righteousness. And a continuing thank you for providing this place to share our interests in amusement parks.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009 6:39 PM

A few notes from the meeting:

  • I arrived 30 minutes late, apparently the first speaker was emotional, to say the least.
  • The VFW hall was packed with barely any room to stand. It seemed like your typical park crowd, enthusiasts and general public with some newspaper reporters sprinkled on top.
  • There were free donuts.
  • Everyone was sure to sign a "Save the Big Dipper" petition.
  • Jim Futrell had an in-depth power point presentation covering the history of the park, but the speech's timeline avoided the Six Flags/Cedar Fair years.
  • Someone from ACE had a presentation showing various ways Geauga Lake property can develop around an operating Big Dipper.
  • A bunch of memorabilia was on display: signage, wheels, Thunderhawk OSTRs, paintings, newspaper articles and much more.
In conclusion, it was a nice event with a decent turnout, which was definitely good to see. The issue I have is that the gathering DIDN'T OFFER ANY PLAN OF ACTION. You have all these people gathered here, which probably won't happen again, and all you do is show how something can be done? We believe something can be done, thats why were here. I guess I was just hoping for something a bit more applicable to the specific situation.

Last edited by d_port_12E, Saturday, April 25, 2009 6:44 PM
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Saturday, April 25, 2009 9:12 PM

The two historians presenting were Charles Jacques and Jim Futrell. Mr. Futrell has written a number of books devoted to individual amusement parks or regions (probably a fair number of enthusiasts have at least one of his works). Mr. Jacques, the first presenter, is elderly and has a slow, folksy manner of speaking. He was quite nostalgic about GL, but I wouldn't say he was particularly emotional in any sort of negative way.

The speaker for ACE was, of course, Howard Gilooly.

d_port is right that there was no plan of action offered. The reason stated at the meeting was that this is merely the first step toward whatever plan develops. Personally, I think that the alternatives are not very promising, despite all the optimism on display. Hope I'm wrong.

The last thing I want to say is that there was not one single bad word said about Cedar Fair or Dick Kinzel. In fact, they were barely mentioned at all. The host went so far as to discuss the fact that hostile e-mails and messages have been sent to the agent who bought BD one behalf of the anonymous party, and that this needs to stop.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009 9:38 PM

Dport, glad you enjoyed the event. As was mentioned in all press releases the event, the organizers respect the fact that Cedar Fair owns the land that the Big Dipper owner owns the ride. There is a fine line between expressing support for preserving it and coming across as trying to impose a specific plan on the two parties that actually own the land and ride. Given the circumstances, we achieved the goal of demonstrating interest in and support for preserving the ride.

It was interesting that many, many people from Aurora, Bainbridge and elsewhere attended, and many who are unconnected to any type of enthusiast group. Many people signed the petition and the contact list to be informed of future events.

More importantly, many important connections between key groups and individuals were made today. There clearly is local support for preserving the Big Dipper. People who met for the first time today may play a part in making that a reality down the road.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:01 AM

So what exactly is the petition good for, and who will they give it to? The owner of the ride?

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 10:34 AM

IMO petitions don't do anything. Start a letter writing campaign! If everyone at the meeting got 5-10 people to write a letter, there would be over 1,000 voices to start the fight...BUT, who to write to? I'd send a copy to each party involved: Cedar Fair, city councils, the winner of the auction. Letter writing campaigns have proven to be incredibly successful.

Last edited by d_port_12E, Sunday, April 26, 2009 10:36 AM
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Sunday, April 26, 2009 11:41 AM

Do we even know who the owner of the ride is? Last I heard the owner was being secretive and Cedar Fair was respecting their wishes to remain anonymous.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:10 PM

The owner is not know, but the purchaser is.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:35 PM

Hey dport,
I can fly back to Ohio and we can start canvassing in support of the Big Dipper!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:38 PM

Signatures are still being collected. Once it is completed it will go to the Dippers owner. local government, and Cedar Fair. The petition is meant to document that the standing room only attendance at the meeting demonstrated that there is interest in preserving the Big Dipper. Forget all the past negativity, Cedar Fair and the Big Dipper buyer would gain financially both directly and from the good will and good PR of being involved in preserving it.

Last edited by coasterdad!, Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:43 PM
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Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:51 PM

"Forget all the past negativity, Cedar Fair and the Big Dipper buyer would gain financially both directly and from the good will and good PR of being involved in preserving it."

Meh, I disagree. The petition demonstrates that a limited collection of enthusiasts and a few members of the general public are interested enough in the ride to *gasp* sign a petition (oh, the devotion!) in hopes of getting to ride a roller coaster again, nothing more, nothing less. A petition does absolutely nothing (nill, zero, nada, zilch) to prove to anyone that re-opening the Big Dipper makes any sort of financial sense. The number of people that would need to patronize a re-opened Dipper, at any price point, far exceeds the number of people who attended this meeting or who will ever sign said petition.

Now, if whatever ends up going to Cedar Fair/the Dipper's new owner(s) is some sort of market research coupled with a well defined business plan proving the financial validity and long-term profitability of re-opening the Dipper, THAT might prove that "Cedar Fair and the Big Dipper buyer would gainfinancially." A few sheets of paper filled with names proves nothing.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Sunday, April 26, 2009 3:53 PM
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Sunday, April 26, 2009 2:44 PM

Bill is right. All I can say right now is that there were a lot of things going on yesterday at the event that not everyone was aware of, the petition just was one small part.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 5:11 PM

Of course there is interest in preserving the ride. Interest isn't the same as money and a plan. If I were more interested in it, I'd be angry that no one has stepped up to make a real plan or put up cash, even when a hand was extended to qualified interested parties before the auction.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 6:04 PM

I visited the park a few times, and I never saw the appeal. There are far more interesting park to me than GL ever was. I thought that I would care, but after a few years of the park's end, I realize that I don't.

...Except for Villain. I do miss that one coaster a little.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:46 PM

My pessimism stems from (1) the fact that the owner isn't even known, apparently by anybody else other than Cedar Fair -- if even them, and (2) the personal observation that Cedar Fair doesn't seem terribly interested in allowing the coaster to remain on site. Not trying to bash Kinzel & Co., only my own take on the situation. I suspect that unless someone comes up with a LOT of money to buy the coaster's land footprint and surrounding environs, it just isn't going to happen.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009 9:51 PM

Of course they don't want the coaster on the site, it makes it harder to sell. No developer in this environment wants that baggage.

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Monday, April 27, 2009 11:37 AM

Ensign Smith said:
I don't really buy that argument. You have to have personally visited an amusement park to be sorry it's gone?

No, you don't. You can mourn the loss of something- or someone- without ever having experienced the object or met the person. I've mourned the loss of old ballparks I never visited, old cars I'd never driven and old amusement parks I never experienced. I've also mourned the loss of people I never met. Are you saying that people cannot mourn the loss of a great figure like John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King because they never got a chance to meet him? I'm sure that opinion will go over real well.

People can mourn whatever or whoever they want. I had the pleasure of visiting Geauga Lake and riding the Big Dipper many times, but I'm sure there are others out there that never had the chance, yet still attach some negative emotion to the closing of a historical amusement park and a great old roller coaster.

I refuse to be labeled a "bad enthusiast" because I don't shed a tear in my beer over it. I choose to keep a relative grasp of perspective of their place in the history of the world.

No one's saying you're a bad enthusiast, but it's typical of you to respond to things you only think you hear. And while I respect your desire to keep things in a perspective that makes you comfortable, don't be so bold as to imply that your perspective must work for everyone else. Different things have a different weight for different people. Your reality is a lot different from mine.

Last edited by Rob Ascough, Monday, April 27, 2009 11:39 AM
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Monday, April 27, 2009 4:10 PM

Wow, Rob, this is what you come back to be active over? To accuse me of hearing things? That's as stupid as suggesting I want everyone to think like me.

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