The Carthage Kiwanis Club and Carthage Chamber of Commerce are planning a ribbon cutting for the park on Friday, June 8. They are also planning a big grand opening party to honor everyone who contributed to the recent overhaul of the park for Saturday, June 9. Times will be announced later.
A summertime classic in Carthage for the past 61 years will open its gates to kids in Carthage this weekend, but more is coming for Kiddieland.
The Carthage Kiwanis Club plans to open Kiddieland, the “world’s largest not-for-profit amusement park,” on Friday and run the entire weekend from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Rides cost 50 cents each, like they have for decades, and all rides except for the new carousel will be working. Proceeds go to the club to support the Cerebral Palsy Center of Tri-County and other charities the club supports.
“If you haven’t been out there in a while, it’s looking better than it has looked in years,” Ross Riley, Kiwanis Club member and chief of maintenance at the park. “Everything is operable except for the carousel and Ed’s still working on that. All the other rides should be ready to go this weekend.”
Kiddieland has been a fixture in Carthage’s Municipal Park since 1951 when the train was first installed. An airplane ride, made of World War II airplane drop tanks, the tub ride and the tiny cars were added between 1951 and 1960 and the park has been in continuous operations ever since.
The carousel, purchased by the club last year and completely restored by a team led by Ed Hardesty, is the first new ride added to the park since 1960.
Plans include building a structure to cover the carousel and protect it from the weather, and installing security fences around the rides, all in the next two weeks, Hardesty said.
Over the past two years, club members, supported by donated money and labor from the community, have engaged in an ambitious two-year overhaul of the park, which included gutting the classic train engine, replacing the entire drive train on the engine and restoring the train cars.