Park Vista program on Idora Park April 12

What opened as a simple trolley terminal park at the turn of the 20th century has become an iconic symbol of Youngstown’s booming past and the focus of an upcoming presentation at Park Vista in Youngstown.

Dr. Richard Shale, professor of English at Youngstown State University, will present “Idora Park: A Historic Look Back” at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 12 at Park Vista Retirement Community. The hour-long presentation will be a visual, historic look at the amusement park that once stood on Youngstown’s South Side and cover the park’s ties to the development of the South Side, its impact on local families and the community.

“There are a lot of angles to Idora Park,” Shale said. “And it’s interesting that you have to be at least 35 or 40 to have a good memory of the park, but there is also this younger generation that really seems to be intrigued by it.”

Shale, who co-authored the book “Idora Park: The Last Ride of Summer,” said it was that multitude of angles and intense connection to the community that intrigued him when he first started researching amusement parks in general. He would give occasional talks on the subject and often find people connected to the park in the audience.

“There was usually someone in the audience that had more information for me. There would be former employees, family members of employees, family of owners” Shale said. “A lot of people found work at Idora, many of them for generations of their family.”

Shale added that not only did generations of families work at Idora, but they also played there. He said that for most of the park’s storied history, whole families would go to spend the day picnicking, taking in entertainment, playing games and riding some of the legendary rides. The lack of an admission charge also made it accessible for people of all socioeconomic statuses.

“It was a community center. Everyone knew about it, it was easily accessible, financially accessible, and it had something for everybody,” Shale said.

For more information or to make a reservation for this free Breakfast Club event, call 330-746-2944, extension 1555.

© 2012 The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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