I was born in 1956 and lived on Highland St. in Wakefield for 28 years. Although I was pretty young at the time, I have many fond memories of Pleasure Island. I think you could sometimes actually hear the train whistle from my house.The freight train tracks went right by the bottom of my hill. This was real convenient for the neighborhood kids to catch a ride practically to the front entrance of Pleasure Island. These are the same tracks that go to the former Container Corporation of America (CCA). Of course we never actually paid to get in. I remember the theme song, modified to something like this: Pleasure Island, whoopie. All rides all day, hop the fence and you will see a day at Pleasure Island.
The place seemed so huge, and had so much to see. I remember seeing the original Lurch and Uncle Festa at the outdoor amphitheater. There were many big name acts that appeared there. The beginning of the Major Mud show showed the rocket that was built by the front entrance. This thing had to be close to 100 feet high, and could be seen from any of the high points in town like Breakheart. I don't think the ride ever opened, although I had been inside it. One winter a person was found inside it frozen to death. I think it was the following summer that it was dismantled and taken away somewhere.
After the park closed, I still continued to explore the grounds. There was a horse there one winter that was left there and eventually starved to death. This was while there were still guards watching the grounds. I must have covered every foot of the place at one time or another.
After the guards no longer worked there the place was still a popular hang out. I used to ride my dirt bike there, and attended many memorable weekend parties around where the train station used to be. Someone eventually burned down the train station, which I believe came from Greenwood. After that the place was leveled to keep people from burning everything in sight.After that the place went downhill and became a dumping ground.
As far as Moby Dick goes, he was removed about 15 years ago. I think that is where the picture in your Memorabilia section came from. There were dolphins that rode on tracks submerged in the water. They are probably still there. I don't know how much the area has been built up, so I don't know what the status is on the pond. I know a building was built real close to it, but I doubt they could have filled it in.
When the park was open the place was full of life. I remember feeding the fish bread from one of the docks. There was always lots of turtles sunning themselves all over the water. Since they put up the high rise building, I haven't seen hardly any life in the water. I'm sure all the runoff from the parking lot runs straight into the pond. You can see the oil in the water. I'm sure this is protected land, so it doesn't make much sense to me. I live in Seabrook NH now, so it has been a while since I have been to Pleasure Island. I must get back there while the weather is still nice. See if there is anything left.
Everything that I talked about was printed in the Item. If they have a search engine for their archives, there has to be a ton of stories about the place. I will check back occasionally on the progress of the web sight. I'm sure there are lots of people that have scrap books with pictures and other memorabilia. You just need to get the word out. Good luck !
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