Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our History: 1930-1940

As Waldameer was struggling to survive the Depression in the 1930’s, a chestnut blight killed off many of the majestic trees that gave the park its name. To boost attendance during this tough time, a relatively new phenomena – talking movies – were offered, and with the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the famous Beer Garden was brought back.

The park’s tough times continued in 1937 as the aging Dip the Dips roller coaster was removed and the Dance Hall burnt down. Since funding did not exist to rebuild the Dance Hall, Waldameer built an outdoor dance floor for the 1938 season. However, due to the unpredictable nature of the weather, the new concept met with limited success.

In August of 1938, another tragedy hit the park. The Ravine Flyer got caught between dips, and as a man rose to try to calm his hysterical sister, he lost his balance and fell 30 feet to his death. Alex Moeller’s wife, L. Ruth, was so upset by the tragedy that Mr. Moeller immediately removed the ride, although the station was retained and converted into a picnic pavilion.

As the Thirties ended, the economy improved, and Waldameer once again began expanding. The first priority was to build a new dance hall. Opened in 1940, the new dance hall had a capacity of 3,000. A local contest was held to name the new building and Rainbow Gardens was selected as the winning entry, due to the multi-colored floor tiles in the building.
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