Friday, December 08, 2006

Farewell Flyer Comet (1939 - 2006)

On Wed. October 18, 2006 the town of Lunenburg, Massachusetts lost their premiere landmark; the 66 year old Flyer Comet roller coaster at Whalom Park. The giant coaster was reduced to rubble in a mere two hours with a three story backhoe.

The Flyer Comet Comes Down in October 2006
Photo copyright 2006 P.Munyon.

For one who grew up in the small town of Lunenburg, as I did, the sight of the coaster coming into view while driving around Whalom Lake was reassuring and familiar. For a rural town consisting basically of farms, orchards and a couple of excavation companies, we were proud of our three 'big' tourist attractions; Whalom Park, Whalom Drive-in Theater, and Tri-Town Drive-in.

The Flyer Coment in July 2005
Photo by kind permission of be-persnickety.

In the pre-Walmart era, Lunenburg was a somewhat of a sleepy town, which came to life in the summer with the seasonal opening of Whalom Park. For me, this was the beginning of my annual seasonal employment. Where? At Whalom Park of course! For six years, I spent 12 hour days working in the 'Penny Arcade', conveniently housed in the former bowling alley building. And for six years, the smells of popcorn, cotton candy, and the sounds of the calliope (the merry-go-round was next door) and the ever present clickety-clack of the Flyer Comet permeated my senses.

Whalom Park in the early 90's
Photo copyright 2006 Dean Ollikkala.

Eventually, I drifted away to California and mostly forgot all about good 'ole Whalom Park. Even when the park itself ceased operation in 2000, it was not so much of a shock. I mean, the buildings were still there, although in an embarrassing state of affairs. Long time residents of the entire Tri-town area (Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Leominster) were patriotically nostalgic about resurrecting the park and bravely hatched several plans, none of which came to fruition.

The final blow, as I said, occured just this fall with the physical demolition of the remaining buildings. 2006 will go down in local history as the year the park actually died; disappearing from view. Whalom Lake will not be the same without the familiar sight of the famous roller coaster, although its sounds and the screams of its passengers will reverberate in my head forever.

Farewell, Flyer Comet!

Ted Ollikkala


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