Sunday, April 29, 2007
By Lynne Klaft CORRESPONDENT
Worcester Telegram & Gazette News
The New Whalom Park Ownership Program is looking for a home for its vision of a re-creation in Winchendon of the old Whalom Amusement Park.
Scott A. Lanciani of Leominster, the founder of the group, worked at the old park as a ride operator during the 1994 summer season.
“It was a summer job when I was in high school … I never though I’d be trying to bring back the old park,” he said.
“I read in the newspapers about the park being sold."
“It bothered me when the park was closed in 2000. It’s a huge loss for the area and for families. Now there is nothing for families to go to,” Mr. Lanciani said.
During a Leominster Lions Club presentation on the history of Whalom Park, he said he thought to himself, “How can we let this place go? Then I thought, maybe the person to do something about this is me.”
Mr. Lanciani talked it over with his family, who encouraged him. He bought a computer and through trial and error created a Web site.
One thing led to another and Mr. Lanciani now has a network of friends, old classmates, interested local people and contacts who share his vision of a new Whalom Park.
After the city of Leominster tabled discussions of allowing the new park within a commercially zoned area of town, Mr. Lanciani received a phone call from the town manager of Winchendon.
“I’m a Fitchburg boy, born and raised, and the park was near and dear to my heart,” said Town Manager James M. Kreidler Jr.
“I had been following the news and there did not seem to be overwhelming support from Leominster, so I made the call to Scott.
“Winchendon’s moniker is Toy Town,” he said, “and what better place to have an American heritage family park than in Toy Town?”
Winchendon received the nickname Toy Town when Morton Converse Toys, known for its wooden hobby horses, was a flourishing business around the turn of the century, he said.
Here’s an interesting tidbit of history.
In 1914 during the 150th anniversary celebration for the toy company, the owner dispatched carvers to Whalom Park to replicate an up-scaled version of one of the carousel horses: a 28-foot-high hobby horse.
“I expressed interest in seeing the group’s business plan, their finances and the phasing of the project,” Mr. Kreidler said.
“If all is in order, we would seriously contemplate engaging in a discussion of the prospect of the park coming to town.
“We have two state campgrounds that attract tens of thousands of visitors every year. What a great opportunity to draw on that population for this park,” Mr. Kreidler said.
The New Whalom Park Ownership Program group is looking for applications from the public for a board of directors.
“A lot of us involved now have the passion, but do not have any experience in land use, business management or finances,” Mr. Lanciani said.
Read the full story here.