Disney artist creates pin of childhood love – Idora Park coaster

YOUNGSTOWN

Before he began working “where dreams come true,” Disney artist Gene Gonda’s dreams were often of a much smaller theme park in the heart of the Mahoning Valley.

Like other Youngstown natives, Gonda — who now lives in Florida but grew up on the city’s South Side — spent his youth riding rides and eating french fries at Idora Park.

“I used to love those french fries. Never had better,” Gonda said.

Now, Gonda hopes to share his artistic gifts and memories of days gone by with other Idora Park enthusiasts through a limited-edition commemorative pin featuring the Jack Rabbit roller coaster — the first roller coaster he ever rode.

Though there are only 500 Jack Rabbit pins, Gonda said if there’s an interest, he would like to make others featuring other attractions from the amusement park.

“If there’s an interest for them I’d love to make pins for some of the other rides too, like the Lost River and the Wildcat,” Gonda said. “I don’t make much on the pins, but that’s fine with me because I’m just making them because I love the park so much.”

In addition to the pin series, Gonda said he’s also interested in producing fine art prints depicting the attractions at Idora Park.

The images of the Idora Park logo and the rides are now in the public domain, so artists such as Gonda are free to incorporate them into their work.

Read more about him and his work in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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