Village Eyes Marker To Highlight History Of Amusement Park
CELORON — It was called the “People’s Park at Celoron” when it opened in 1894.
Modeled after parks at Coney Island and in Atlantic City, Celoron Amusement Park for decades boasted several rides, a theater, auditorium and a baseball field. The construction of hotels and rooming houses also provided places to stay.
An effort by the village’s historian now seeks to commemorate the former amusement park.
In late February, the Celoron Village Board approved a resolution authorizing the village historian to submit an application to the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for the purchase of a historical marker. A letter of intent for grant funding already had been approved.
As part of its mission, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation helps to preserve history in local communities by providing grants to obtain signage in the form of roadside markers and plaques. Since 2005, the foundation has funded more than 1,800 signs across the United States.
According to Celoron Mayor Scott Schrecengost, if approved and constructed the historical marker would be placed in Lucille Ball Memorial Park. Its exact location has not yet been determined.
If all goes to plan, the marker noting the former amusement park would be the first in the village.
“We have a lot of history in this village,” said Schrecengost, who noted the October 1921 visit to the park by Babe Ruth, the famed baseball player with the New York Yankees. Several newspaper accounts said Ruth hit a ball from the baseball field into Chautauqua Lake before an exhibition game.
The park’s heydays, at least according to a lengthy history of the grounds on the village’s website, occurred from its opening through the beginning of World War II. The “decline” of the park began at the onset of the war.
One of the park’s many attractions was the Phoenix, a 10-story Ferris wheel that opened in 1896 and was lit by 350 colored lights. In 1952, the Phoenix was dismantled and, a decade later, the park closed.
Schrecengost said a historical marker would highlight an important time in the village’s history that could draw people to Celoron.
In July 2021, the village of Falconer installed its first historical marker in recognition of Hugh Bedient — the prolific baseball player known for one time striking out 42 players in a single game while playing semi-pro ball and later winning the World Series as a member of the Boston Red Sox. The marker was funded with the assistance of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
“There’s a lot of people who look for those markers,” Schrecengost said.