|ACE Historian David Hahner Jr. (left) and Idlewild Park|
General Manager Brandon Leonatti unveil the new marker
at Idlewild Park along Route 30 on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2012.
Idlewild Park, a longtime staple of Southwest Pennsylvania’s entertainment industry, received a new honor on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2012 with the dedication of a new roadside plaque in honor of the park’s history.
In recognition of the park’s 135th operating season, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has honored Idlewild with an official historic marker, placed along Route 30, by one of the park’s exits. Idlewild has already received national attention with its current distinction as World’s Best Children’s Park, a title formerly held by Legoland California.
An official dedication ceremony was held Saturday morning with speeches from Jeffrey S. Croushore; Sales and Public Relations Manager for Idlewild, Jean Craige Pepper; Commissioner for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and David Hahner Jr. of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) who first nominated the park for its historical distinction in 2010.
Hahner, a historian for ACE, stated in an interview following the dedication that the nomination process began during a weekend at Idlewild with Croushore showing him the park’s first Golden Ticket Award and talking about how he had been toying with the idea of nominating the park’s Rollo Coaster (sic) for the title of an ACE Coaster Landmark.
“We began talking about different historical markers... and at that point I said ‘Well you guys don’t have a state historic marker yet and you’re older than Kennywood,’” said Hahner.
Hahner began working with Croushore, who also authored an “Images of America” book on Idlewild in 2004, over the two-year process by supplying extensive amounts of information and history to the PA Historical and Museum Commission to receive the marker. Croushore himself stated that the event resonates with him personally.
“I grew up coming to Idlewild and I have so many special family memories: My first roller coaster ride, gathering around the picnic tables throughout the grounds and just a lot of lifetime family memories which make it a very special event for me and everyone here at the park,” said Croushore.
The trademark navy-blue and gold plaque reads as follows:
The longest-operating amusement park in Pa. and among the oldest in the nation. In 1878, Thomas Mellon leased land along his Ligonier Valley Railroad hoping to increase passenger traffic by opening a picnic ground. Amusement rides began to be added in the 1890s; several rides from the 1930s continue to operate today. Surviving the railroad closure, two World Wars and the Great Depression, Idlewild provides nationally recognized family recreation.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission 2012©