Berkshire Residents: Do You Have Memories Of A Downstate Amusement Park?
It's time for me to get nostalgic as this article takes us back in time when good clean family fun was a traditional ritual and one place that fit that bill was a 38 acre paradise located in neighboring Bergen county. That portion of New Jersey was home base to the ONE and ONLY Palisades Amusement Park.
My proximity to this iconic and magical place was a bus ride away as an express shuttle would transport you from The George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal to the park's main entrance and as you set foot, an oasis of fun awaited all ages. Radio and TV commercials saturated the airwaves with three simple words: "COME ON OVER". See for yourself as the advertisement truly lived up to it's promise:
And they did, in more ways than one. The Garden State experienced massive traffic gridlock as parking spaces at the property filled to capacity. Excess motor vehicles were forced to leave their cars at neighboring areas as shuttle buses continued your journey to this once in a lifetime locale. Here is an aerial view of what I called one of my happiest places in the early stages of my life.
Berkshire residents can also relate to this momentous amusement park as we have many visitors from New York and New Jersey in our area who also have relocated to our backyard from downstate. I'm sure you have a story of a day spent at Palisades as I refer to this area as "an oasis" that truly brought happiness to my childhood and the feeling is mutual. The park attracted visitors from all across the United States as you embarked on the rides, sampled the food (delicious with a capital D), tried your luck at the carnival midway to win a memento or two and if you dared, they even had a giant swimming pool (which I did not take a dip as the beach was my choice to cool off during the hot, humid summer months)
Three of my favorite attractions were located on ground level as I always made it a point to take that "Flight To Mars", Casper's Ghost Land and their "fun house" was a mandatory stop as I would be accompanied with my cousins to share golden moments together. And you probably remember taking a ride aboard their "Cyclone" roller-coaster (not the exact duplicate you would find in neighboring Coney island, but it came close)
Do you recall taking a ride on The Tilt-A-Whirl or maybe even The Super Himalaya? Tri-State regions from downstate can also recall the park had a cool assortment of bumper cars (my driving skills were not quite up to par at that time, so you can imagine how many times i was sidetracked, lol)
And let's not forget my dear friend and mentor, "The Cuz" as he hosted numerous concerts at "his 2nd home away from home". When Brucie wasn't in the studio at WABC, you would find him on stage at the park introducing the most popular acts that graced our airwaves nationwide. he still reminisces about those days on his weekly radio show and those memories are priceless. Freddie "Boom-Boom" Cannon also recorded a hit single to immortalize this "fun place" and here is the audio to take us back to "simpler" times:
Now you see why I enjoy "living in the past" One of the saddest days of my life was my last visit to Palisades Park in the summer of 1971 as record crowds made one final pilgrimage before the magic disappeared forever. Back in it's hey day, you could view portions of the park while crossing The George Washington Bridge. Not anymore: The Winston Towers Apartment Complex has since occupied this magical space, but the lifetime memories continue to live within me.
If you want to get nostalgic, LIKE The Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society's Facebook page by going here OR log on to this web site for more GREAT blasts from the past. Again, as the classic commercial used to say: "COME ON OVER"
(PHOTOS of Palisades Park courtesy of The Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society's Facebook page. Video and audio clips courtesy of You Tube)