By Ashley Luthern
When Melanie Smith was
4 years old, she got stuck at the top of Idora Park’s Jack Rabbit roller coaster.
“We had to walk down the hill,” said Smith, who was with her father at the time. “Now my dad has felt the need to keep Idora Park alive.”
Smith’s father, Robert Karzmer of Youngstown, has brought a piece of an Idora Park roller coaster to the Canfield Fair, but instead of the Jack Rabbit, it’s a car from the Wildcat.
“I figured in a hard economy people like nostalgia,” Karzmer said.
He compared the Wildcat as a Youngstown landmark to the Statue of Liberty as a New York landmark. In the 1970s, American Coaster Enthusiasts ranked the Wildcat among the Top 10 coasters in the country.
Now, fairgoers who miss the Wildcat, or were born after the park’s closure in 1984, can hop in the coaster car and have a picture taken in it with an 8-foot-by-10-foot backdrop of the Wildcat track for $10. Karzmer’s display of Idora memorabilia, including tickets and popcorn boxes, is at 129 Kohler Drive, near the Yo-Yo swing ride.
“I’ve bolted it on a trailer and tilted it up, and then I take a picture from an even higher perspective, so it looks like you’re moving on the track,” Karzmer said.
Karzmer found the 1,000-pound original coaster car in a local body shop. Graphic designer Ron Smith, who used to work at Idora Park, replicated the car’s decals and enlarged the Wildcat track photo.
About nine years ago, when the lingering skeletons of the Wildcat and Jack Rabbit were demolished, Karzmer bought some wood from the Wildcat that he uses to make photo frames.
“Idora Park was about going with your family and friends,” Karzmer said. “It was a simpler, easy time in Youngstown.”