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Why exactly did Gaslight Village close?
Topic Started: Mar 9 2009, 02:23 PM (941 Views)
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I vaguely remember Gaslight Village when it was open but I really miss it. I wish it was open for more years so I could remember more of it. Anyways, I am wondering why Gaslight Village really did close. From what I can remember and find online, it seems like the last year it was open was 1989. During that same year, I believe the Lac Du Saint Sacrament boat officially opened. In 1990, Gaslight Village was cut in half but a park remained open. It was called "Lake George Ride & Fun Park. I believe they had 23 rides, shows, and attractions. Meanwhile, the other half was used for parking for the boat. Did Gaslight Village close due to needed parking for the new cruise ship? I know Charley Wood was looking to get out of the amusement park business around this time, but he did still own the park when it was Ride & Fun Park. I am wondering if that's the main reason Gaslight closed. As far as Lake George Ride & Fun Park, I can't find any information about that online at all. I didn't go to that park when it was opened, but I do remember driving by and seeing it. It was just half of Gaslight Village. I believe it might have operated 1990-1992. Then Action Park came in 1996. Can anyone help me out as to what reason(s) Gaslight closed? Anyone remember anything of Ride & Fun Park?
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Joe Picchi Staff writer
Section: LOCAL, Page: B2

Date: Tuesday, September 6, 1988

Gaslight Village in this Adirondack resort closed for the season Monday, and it could mark the end the amusement park.

Negotiations are in the works to sell the 8.7 acres occupied by Gaslight Village and the 4.6 acres of the former Wax Life Amusement Park directly across West Brook Street for a convention center and more parking space for the Lake George Steamboat Co. The Lake George Convention Center Steering Committee hopes to buy the property and then attract a developer to build a convention center.

Charles Wood, owner of Gaslight Village and the nearby Great Escape amusement parks, refuses to discuss anything - let alone the negotiations - with the news media.

Others involved in the talks, however, said they hope some type of agreement to sell the land can be reached during the winter.

"Negotiations are private and (Wood) has been very cooperative," said Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais.

"We have every reason to think Wood is looking kindly toward this project," added Doris Herwig, director of the Warren County tourism department. She said "nothing is signed, sealed or delivered, and we will be talking until next spring before something is solidified."

"Wood knows his business well," added Wilbur E. Dow Jr., president of the steamboat company. "He is fair and reasonable so we have no problem waiting. We've got to have it, though."

A portion of the Gaslight Village site lies adjacent to the Lake George Steamboat Co. property where a ship is being built that is 200 feet long and will hold 1,500 people.

The new ship will have a distinctly French name, Lac du St. Sacrement. Dow's company also operates the Mohegan, the Ticonderoga, and the Minne-Ha-Ha.

Construction of a convention center, which could cost between $6 million and $7 million, would be a more complex undertaking.

Engineering work is under way for design of the convention center so much of the work can be completed quickly if an agreement is approved, said Blais.

He said if an agreement is reached to purchase the land, the initial process would also include public hearings, and development of a financial package.

The convention center is a "catch- 22" issue, added Blais.

"Some of our people think we're crazy to bring in more tourists," said Blais. "But we can't pay for the millions and millions of dollars for a new sewage collection system without convention business."

Herwig said the Lake George region is ripe for a convention center with six million visitors last year and overnight accommodations for more than 35,000 people.

"Buffalo has a convention center and they are filling their place," said Herwig. "Rochester has a convention center and they are filling their place. And they don't come close to the number of rooms we have."

"Add to that a beautiful lake that is known worldwide," he said. "The only thing we don't have is the convention center."

The popularity of the Gaslight Village amusement park as a family attraction has apparently dwindled since its founding in 1959, according to Herwig. The park is known for the "melodrama," a theatrical form of the past century with emphasis on heroes, heroines and villains. It also hosted outdoor acts, rides, and an opera house.

During its heyday, thousands of people visited the park during a summer season.

"At a time when everybody had four or five children, amusement parks were the name of the game," Herwig said. "Families are now smaller and there is less of a market."

Herwig also said it was her guess that unlike the Great Escape, which Wood also owns, there was no way to expand Gaslight Village since no additional land was available there.

When a reporter attempted to contact Wood last week, his secretary said, "He has no comment on anything and will not return your telephone call."
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Stephen Frank Staff writer
Section: WEEKEND, Page: C1

Date: Friday, July 29, 1988

As anyone who watches local television commercials is painfully aware, Gaslight Village is where families go for "yesterday's fun today."

In that nostalgic spirit, the melodrama - a theatrical form of the past century - lives on at the amusement park. In their heyday in the 1890s, melodramas were sensational or romantic stage plays interspersed with songs and performed to an orchestral accompaniment.

At this theme park, three actors and a piano player carry on the tradition in abbreviated form.

They may not be doing so for much longer, however. A deal to close the theme park and turn the property into a parking lot has been proposed, according to Wilbur E. Dow Jr., president of the Lake George Steamboat Co., which would buy the land.

Although details and timing have yet to be worked out, theme-park owner Charles Wood has offered to sell the property and a nearby parcel for $4.5 million, Dow said.

Meanwhile, the shows - which park publicists tout as the "oldest continuing mellerdramas" in the nation - go on. The productions may be venerable, but they are pale shadows of their former selves.

Gaslight Village mounted its first "meller" in 1960. In those days, the show lasted nearly an hour, complete with chorus line and a cast of a half- dozen characters.

Today's diminished versions take 15 minutes to perform. They have been nudged out of the park's theatrical spotlight by other attractions, such as a popular ice revue and the Sunshine Express show band.

Nevertheless, the "mellerdrama" tradition continues. The acting still is broad, the jokes still intentionally awful, the audiences still prompted by sign cards to cheer for the hero and boo the villan.

The young men and women who mount the shows still are minimally paid but full of enthusiasm.

Tim Murphy, 24, is manager of the theme park's Opera House and the mellerdrama impressario. At an amusement park, where performers tend to wear numerous hats, Murphy also acts in the mellers. More often than not, he's wearing the villain's black hat and cape and sporting a handlebar mustache.

"I had always been hero, until two years ago when I became Opera House manager. Then it was only fitting that I become villain," he said.

Murphy has acted in the shows since 1981, when his high school English teacher, then moonlighting as park entertainment director, offered him a summer job.

Whatever ambition Murphy had in high school to act professionally has long been displaced by other career plans.

Last year, he earned a master's degree in judicial administration from the University of Denver College of Law.

Positions as court managers are scarce, however. When his summer stint at Gaslight Village ends on Labor Day, Murphy expects to begin a job as a procurement specialist with the General Electric Co. in Schenectady. Until then, playing the villain satisfies his thirst for the spotlight.

Rich Tenace, 22, who plays the hero to Murphy's villain, still hungers for stardom.

After graduating from Schalmont High School three years ago, he attended Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in Sarasota, Fla.

"I want to be a stand-up comic and act," Tenace said. "I've been doing magic and clowning ever since I was 6 years old."

This is Tenace's third summer at Gaslight Village, where he has landed the job he wanted from Day 1 - park clown. When he is not playing mellerdrama hero, he puts on outdoor shows and gads about the park in a red fright wig and bulbous red nose as "Corky the Clown." He's also the park announcer.

Tenace's multiple roles earn him $240 for a six-day work week. But money does not seem to be the point: "This park has been good to me. It's given me a place to perform and try out new stuff."

Among the new material Tenace is performing is a mellerdrama he co- wrote with Murphy.

The plot, which leans heavily on presidential politics for topical jokes, revolves around an election for mayor of Gaslight Village. The villain is a corrupt incumbent being challenged by the hero and his campaign manager, the heroine "Delly Gates."

The bare-bones plot is primarily a vehicle for the worst puns and jokes Murphy and Tenace can dream up.

"I tend to think of it as 'Hee Haw' put into a cohesive script. That type of corny humor," Murphy said.

"The jokes are supposed to get belly groans," Tenace said. "The worse they are, the better."

Suzanne Wade, 19, is one of the park performers who play mellerdrama heroine. Wade, who is from Marion, Ind., also sings alto and plays keyboards in Sunshine Express, the park's show band. For her double duty, she earns $140 a week.

Wade is studying music education at Butler University in Indianapolis. When she graduates, she plans to become a choral music teacher, first at the high school level then, she hopes, in college.

"I love it," she said of her first summer as a mellerdrama heroine. "I love to perform. For me, it's not really working." Gaslight Village is located on Route 9 in the village of Lake George, near Fort William Henry. The park is open seven days a week, 2-11 p.m. Admission is $12.95 for adults; $11.25 for children 3-11; $9.75 for senior citizens 65 and older. Children younger than 3 are admitted free. Mellerdramas, Sunshine Express Band, Ron Urban Ice Revue, and outdoor stage shows are performed alternately throughout the day and evening.
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Steamin Demon
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obviously the closing of the park was areas biggest fiascos....yea everone wants to ride a big boat!
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What a shame. Shutting down 2 attractions for an attraction that never happened and possibly wasn't needed.
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