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Reawakening of Bushkill Park - to re-open in 2019

Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:35 pm

Bushkill Park opened in 1902 and operated continuously through 2004 on the banks of Bushkill Creek. Throughout its first 100 years, Bushkill Park was flooded on numerous occasions by never to the degree caused by the fury of Hurricane Ivan. As the park was continuing to dig out from the severe 2004 damage, additional flooding occurred in 2005 only to be followed by Bushkill Creek breaching its banks again in 2006.

After the successive years of flooding and vandalism, some structures fell into a state of instability. Some appendages had to be amputated and vital organs that had ceased to operate were sold off to cover overhead costs. The park was written off as dead.

To many on the outside, Bushkill Park did not appear to be breathing, it did not have a pulse. However, the park was in a coma. Outside of the mainstream eye, clean-up efforts continued over the years trying to stay ahead of Mother Nature and Father Time. Bushkill Creek continued to spill over, but not to the degree of 2004-2006. Every so often word would come out about a small team still working hard to re-open Bushkill Park. Finally in January 2017, the Skating Rink opened to the public. It sounded like a good start, but the pictures from outsiders showing the inside of the rest of Bushkill Park for the first time in years didn't tell a great story. The park might be out of its coma but it was still on life support with a touch and go future.

A small dedicated crew continued to chug along and on June 9th, 2017, Bushkill Park opened for one day to celebrate its 115th birthday party. 3,000 enthusiast friends and extended family were allowed to visit the patient for the first time in years and show their love for their old friend.

The park now has one owner in Sammy Baurkot. Sammy has been a pillar of the business community for decades and he just wants the park open again and he wants it to occur regularly in 2019. He remembers the joy Bushkill Park brought to the community and himself. His community has gone too long without and he wants to fix it immediately. Now as sole owner he can better set timelines, control the budget and seek information from the most knowledgeable sources. His team is developing short term and long term goals with an eye on financial accountability. In talking with Sammy and others involved, the patient is ready to get out of ICU and rise up again. Baby steps at first, but the team is ready to make it happen.

I witnessed Park historian Kelly Feathers sharing old pictures of the park with Sammy and his face lit up like a child. He was especially excited when seeing pictures of the old fun house facade which has had more makeovers and augmentations than any Hollywood personality. Kelly has spent an estimated 800 hours at the park volunteering since 2004. She is contracted by Arcadia Publishing to write a history of Bushkill Park. She knows practically everything about the park.

Another key member of the team I met with was John Cory. John Cory is a long time employee at the park and while he did not give me an official title, he is a man of many skills, a jack of all trades. His main job moving forward is to get the mechanical rides operational. His main distraction is property maintenance that frequently takes him away from his goal. In discussing the work that went into making their kiddie ferris wheel and roller coaster operational, it is clear that he has the knowledge to accomplished his task with the rides.

The newest member of the team and the one who alerted me of the happenings at Bushkill Park is a man I have been following for years, Chuck Burnham. His knowledge of dark rides and fun houses is unparalleled. His immense efforts at Wild Bill's were thwarted through no fault of his own, but now he has returned with a vengeance. His disappointment at his previous locale has only left him more focused and impassioned. He was recommended to the park by a knowledgeable State Inspector who knows what the park needs and what Chuck can do. Bushkill Park is "grandfathered" in for certain old school amusement tricks that might not be possible elsewhere in the US today and that has Chuck's brain spinning in motion.

I don't want to overburden everyone with too much reading in one post, and I'll post more info shortly. All questions are welcome and I'll refer them to the park on future visits. The park does not currently have a communications team and does not want to over promise. So while I might ask every question, I might not be able to respond immediately.

I am going to use this thread to keep everyone up to speed with updates from Bushkill Park. I'll also review some of the history of Bushkill Park when appropriate. The park, Chuck and I know there will be some haters and non-believers but please be respectful and here them out.

The next installment will be dedicated to fun house and it will be photo heavy. This is certainly the heart of the park. The one major remaining structure from the parks hey day, that can be restored in its original building. An attraction that brings back memories for all who rode it.
John Cory, Kelly Feathers, Sammy Baurkot, Chuck Burnham
Hope to see you all here in 2019
Last edited by larrygator on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:00 pm.

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:54 pm

That's a cool story. I haven't heard of this place previously, but it seems like every little town in Pennsylvania had an amusement park at some point. A cool unique dark ride would be great, and I know people in this area would go for it just based on the many conversations I overheard at Dorney about how it was better when it was family owned.

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:06 pm

Awesome news! I almost visited this park during a Pennsylvania trip back in the early 2000s, but it was closed due to rain. I've always been intrigued by that fun house.

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:06 pm

Good for them, reopening next year! I hope it's very successful and inspires them
to make the park more and more "a park to go to", by locals and everybody else.


Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:55 pm

Thanks for sharing. Great to see an old park getting new life. Hope it all works out.

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:20 pm

I wish them much success!

I remember this park was featured on an episode of American pickers. They sold off a few of the parks circus banners. The pickers bought them for next to nothing, and found out that they were worth much more than they thought.

The cool thing is that the pickers donated all the money from the sale back to the park to help with the renovations.

You can watch the episode here...


Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:13 am

I’ve been following them on social media ever since they opened the rink! Is the plan for 2019 to have a handful of small rides like the kiddie wheel and coaster and then the fun house?

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:22 am

So Mr Fehnel is no longer part of this park then?

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:01 pm

Taylor Finn wrote:I’ve been following them on social media ever since they opened the rink! Is the plan for 2019 to have a handful of small rides like the kiddie wheel and coaster and then the fun house?

The plan is to open the park for the 2019 season with the fun house and a few small kiddie rides as you suspected. More details to follow.

Cyrbuzz wrote:So Mr Fehnel is no longer part of this park then?
. Mr. Fehnel sold his share of the park to Sammy Baurkot, but still his a share of the Skating Rink.

Re: Reawakening of Bushkill Park

Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:03 pm

Thank you Larry for sharing the updates on this park's revitalization effort. It seems like those involved are pursuing this progressively in a way that is lower risk, and I hope it works out for them. A park as storied as this is one that has value being open, even if only for a portion of the year. I'm eager to see how these plans pan out!
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