WILLOW BEACH AMUSEMENT PARK

When it opened in June, 1929, Willow Beach offered, in addition to the midway and concessions, the sand beach with a bathhouse which would accommodate 2500 bathers, dance hall, seaplane rides to the harbor light, motorboat excursions in the bay, eating and picnic facilities and a special kiddies park. There were shooting galleries, a penny arcade, hot dog stalls and the only sand beach in the city. It boasted the largest and finest dance pavilion on the Great Lakes and often featured big bands. A marathon dance contest, a popular event in the late 1920's and early 1930's was held.

The roller coaster, considered one of the best in the Midwest in the early 1930's was designed by W. H. Davis, who operated it and many of the amusement park's concessions. It was a 10-car affair, traveling at 10-15 mph. It was almost demolished by fire in 1932 which destroyed with fun house and other concessions. Though the park was rebuilt, use of it went downhill until it closed in 1949. By 1949, it was a ghost park and closed except for the dance hall which was there for a short time. The city bought the 13-15 acres for $50,000 in 1954 and it became Cullen Marina (named after a former councilman) in 1961.

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