Tonawanda News

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August 31, 2013

The stories behind Kiddieland

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


Tonawanda News — “If my father was here now,”  he told those at the dedication last week, “he would be so proud.”

Page’s Whistle Pig, an area institution, was opened in 1939 by Pete Page, Page’s grandfather. The rides, so familiar to generations of Niagara-area children, were a later addition by his father, Bernie Page, starting in 1950 with the pony cart ride that now will run at the museum.

Like all the rides, it has a story. Bernie Page had originally purchased 12 real ponies to give rides to children at the site, Peter Page said. That plan, unfortunately, was ill-fated.

“This ride came to Page’s because a horse bit my sister,” he said, motioning to the pony cart ride. “This ride here replaced those ponies.”

More rides came and went throughout the years, with many people who helped keep them up and running. The last year they ran was 2006, Peter Page said. Then the Proefrocks approached him on behalf of the museum ... and the rest is history. 

“It’s wonderful. I’m sure my father’s happy,” he said. “His spirit was behind me saying, ‘Do it.’ “

Rae Proefrock said they were able to come to a deal that pleased both sides.

“I think he was happy to know they were staying nearby,” she said of Page. “We had contacted them in the past, and said we’d be interested in case he sold them.”

Although the days of Page’s Whistle Pig have passed, Page is still full of stories about the rides, their operation and those who have ridden them over the years, including couples headed to their senior proms, a group of FBI agents (who wanted to ride the helicopters) and even members of the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds. 

However, he’s looking forward to showing them to a few very special young riders sometime this opening weekend.

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