Tonawanda News

Local News

August 31, 2013

The stories behind Kiddieland

Rides, area at new museum exhibit have a history all their own

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — “I’m just glad the museum got the outcome that it did. It’s really going to contribute not only to the museum’s success, but to North Tonawanda’s success,” Bray said of Kiddieland. “There’s going to be a lot more folks coming to that museum, I think.”

“Things just fell into place, almost like it was meant to be.”

•••

Sam Hummel of North Carolina thought so.

Proefrock said Hummel called her out of the blue one day and offered the museum his 1940s kiddie car and fire truck ride, even offering to transport it to North Tonawanda. 

“He just said he had this ride and would we like it?” she said. “We couldn’t turn it down. And I think they were so pleased to see where it ended up and how it ended up, and how it was restored.”

Hummel, who asserted at last week’s dedication of the exhibit that “All good rides have a story,” has many of them about the ride, which he purchased in the mid-1970s after reading an ad in an automotive magazine. The local arts council, he said, had been looking for a way to bring more people to a festival supporting the Carolina Theatre, and he thought the ride would be a good draw.

He bought it sight unseen ... and without telling his wife.

“My wife was at church with the kids,” Hummel recalled. “She came back and said, ‘What ... is ... that ...’”

The marriage survived. So did the ride. They rebuilt the floors and put new seats in, and with other kiddie rides purchased by other arts supporters, it became a fixture of the festival.

“It was a big hit right from the beginning,” Hummel said. “The place would draw 80,000 people. It was a big hit and we had a lot of fun running them for that period of time. It’s beautifully built; we enjoyed learning how to make it work and respect the engineering skill involved. We had a wonderful time.”

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