Wenona Beach Amusement Park
Personal memories of an earlier time.
Memories of Wenona Beach Amusement Park
By Marvin A. Kusmierz - July, 2002.
My first introduction to the Wenona Beach park was as a kid when my mother took me there one evening so she could to see Harry Jarky, a comedian that entertained audiences at the Casino. At that time, I had no interest in Mr. Jarky. My interest was the spectacular park grounds outside of the Casino where everything was lit up like a huge Christmas tree.
My mother gave me some money and sent me on my way with some of the older kids into the amusement area of the park. While the lights impressed me from a far, I wasn't too keen on trying any of the larger rides like the Ferris wheel or Roller Coaster. At this age, they put more fear than desire in my mind. They would have to wait for another day when I was older and up to the challenge they presented. I spent most of the evening on the kids rides such as; the carousel, bump-em cars and the security of riding the small train that meandered around the park. Thus, my love affair with Wenona Beach began.
In subsequent years, I didn't have many opportunities to go to the park even though my mother continued to there regularly with friends to enjoy Harry Jarky and have some fun dancing the evening away. It wasn't until I had a bike and nearly 10 years old that Wenona Beach became a regular summer destination for me. When I was without money, I could still go there to swim and play along the sandy beach with my friends. When I had money, which wasn't too often, I began to enjoy the thrill of those bigger rides, all that is except for the Bullet. It still was too intimidating, and in spite of fierce heckling from my friends, I resisted this horrifying thrill.
My first ride on the Bullet would come a couple of years later. At that time, I had a paper route and financially, felt pretty well, at least I thought so. I had no bills except what I owed the Bay City Times and the rest was all pleasure money unless mom had a need for it. A great life that I wish hadn't ended so quickly. A bonus of being a paper boy was being able to attend the annual Bay City Times employee's picnic at Wenona Beach. Besides free food and ice cream, the rides were free too! It was at my first paperboy picnic that I took my maiden ride on the Bullet. But only after I had spent most of the time enjoying all the other rides first, after all, I needed to work up to the Bullet. Finally, it was time! As I was being strapped in my seat, my mind fueled by the adrenaline of this moment and the thought of, "what in the heck am I doing?"
For those not familiar with this ride, it had two large cylinders with a bullet like shape. Each cylinder seated four people, two on each end of the bullet. The cylinders were attached to the end of a large cantilever that rotated on a vertical axis while the cylinders could be manually pivoted sideways during the ride to enhance the experience. The ride consisted of these bullet like canisters being rotated at a rapid verticle circle in one direction for half of the ride at which time they stopped it in mid-air and reversed the direction for the balance of the ride. So, during the ride you road forward half of the time and backward the other half.
Once strapped in, there was no turning back. Good fortune was with me because my first ride began with movement in the forward position for me. I needed this to eased my way for confronting the second half of the ride which would be zooming around backwards. After much screaming and cramped muscles from holding on so fiercely during the ride, I finally made it through my first ride on the Bullet. It felt great having met this challenge in spite of falling a couple of times as I was leaving from being so dizzy.
Once you've rode the Bullet, nothing else in the park matches its thrill, and needless to say, it became one of my favorite rides right up there with the Jack Rabbit (roller coaster) and Ferris wheel.
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