Many people recall where they were April 26, 1984, the day a thick plume of black smoke at Idora Park rose into the blue sky and was seen for miles.
More than 30 years later, a deep love and sentimentality for the iconic amusement park on Youngstown’s South Side continue to burn in many residents’ hearts.
“Most people felt it was one of the finest bandstands between New York City and Chicago,” said Rick Shale, referring to the main feature of the park’s dance pavilion, which was built in 1910 and was a longtime attraction.
Shale, a park expert and co-author of “Idora Park: The Last Ride of Summer,” discussed much of Idora’s 85-year history during his lecture Thursday at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, 325 W. Federal St. His presentation was part of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s Bites and Bits of History luncheon.
Shale, a former Youngstown State University professor, noted that the park was built in what was a relatively remote area of the city so as to get more people to use the trolley cars. When Idora Park debuted May 30, 1899 – two weeks after the Market Street Bridge opened – most residents lived north of the Mahoning River, he explained.
Early attractions were a merry-go-round, animal acts, the dance pavilion called Heidelberg Gardens and an open-air theater on the midway that featured vaudeville acts, Shale said, adding that music was always an integral part of the park’s history.
Read more about the storied park in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.