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Sylvan Beach starts busy season; new 1940s theme at park

Utica Observer

Original Article »

May 27, 2011

For more than 45 years, the Sylvan Beach Amusement Park has provided traditional games and rides that have brought guests back season after season. But this year, visitors will have an additional feature to look forward to: interactive characters.

Inspired by the performances Creative Director Gary Izzo brings to life each summer at the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling, the amusement park’s newest additions will help create a fanciful, mid-20th-century environment for guests, co-owner Doug Waterbury said.

The 1940s-themed characters will be on hand to welcome park-goers today as Sylvan Beach receives its first large crowds of the season for Memorial Day weekend – assuming a rainy forecast doesn’t keep customers away.

After 30 years of running nearby Cinderella’s Café, owner Joe Farnach has seen his share of “roller coaster” weather on Memorial Day weekends. But Farnach said he’s confident that – if the sun is out – Sylvan Beach will be packed and he’ll have “all hands on deck” at the restaurant, best known for its ice cream.

“If the sun comes out here, you’ll see masses of boats and people and a lot going on,” he said.

In order to accommodate the expected crowd, the café — open all year — ordered 30 to 45 percent more food than it would for a typical weekend.

Farnach also was confident that some of the newer improvements to the amusement park would bring in more business.

“Any improvements at all to the community will absolutely help us,” he said.

Waterbury said the amusement park will have 12 professional actors performing Thursdays through Sundays throughout the summer, as well as holiday Mondays. They will be dressed in vintage clothing, and each actor will have unique antics associated with his or her character. Those include sophisticated speech for certain characters, carnival-esque language for others, and many forms of interactive entertainment with visitors – such as asking them to help with certain dilemmas relevant to the time period.

A 1946 Chevrolet taxicab – purchased specifically for the new event – also will be featured at the park.

Waterbury said the new 1940s theme reflects on a time when opportunity and industry were booming in the area, and complements the architecture and old-timey feel of the community.

This interactive world will be the “Renaissance of Sylvan Beach” and a real turning point in the process of improving the park, he added.

“There’s significant movement of the football down the field,” he said, using a sports metaphor to describe the progress. “We haven’t completely scored the touchdown yet, but we’re on our way.”

The park also added “The Screamer,” a 38-passenger, high-speed boat ride on Oneida Lake, in 2009, and plans to further capitalize on the area’s family-oriented nature in the future by converting a large dance hall into a teen disco for those 13 to 18 years old, he said.


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