October 2009 Update
Please click on a photo for an enlargement

t has been since May, 2006 that I have written an up date for the website! I feel it’s high time that I report some of the exciting news.

click here for an enlargement of this photoIn general, the success of the Eldridge Park Carousel Preservation Society can be measured by attendance numbers. At this season's close, over 200,000 riders have enjoyed the Eldridge Park Carousel!! Season III also introduced Jasper, the Dragon Boat. To this point about 10,000 tickets have been sold for this historic celebrity. The Dragon Hatchlings, introduced during Season IV, have already hosted over 4,000 riders!

We built the Dance Hall by converting the old “Whip” Building in season II. We built the boat house for Jasper and an addition to the rear of the carousel building in Season III along with a state-of-the-art security system covering the entire park at a cost of over $40,000.

clilck here for an enlargement of this photoWe opened an old fashioned arcade in Building Two during Season III, and, in Season IV, an ice cream, cotton candy, french fries w/ vinegar, snow cone operation in Building One. (Both buildings are located across from the new boat house and have been turned over to us by the City of Elmira.)

There’s a fountain in the lake, two solid antique marble lions and their cubs guarding the entrance to the park each weighing 2.400 lbs, thanks to Rotary. The bathrooms were renovated and this spring we built the most beautiful BBQ building in the world! We also built the grand Victorian Pavilion called, “Corporate One”, which was sponsored by the City of Elmira. We had over 16 weddings at the park in 2009 and the dance hall is getting booked solid for 2010 already.

My “brother”, Walter Booth, has been my V.P. of construction since the beginning, and I will never let him go! He designed and built the “Bridge to the Future” and the “Bridge to the Past”, as part of the Season IV BBQ project, sponsored by the community foundation. Walter has had his hands in every aspect of this project since day one.

click here for an enlargement of this photoAs a volunteer force, living and working at the park - there are hundreds - we have learned some very valuable lessons. Family and Quality are at the top of the list. The project we volunteer for is cross-cultural, intergenerational and gets us back to the point and time when family was everything. We forget about the stress of normal life when we are at Eldridge! We have created a connection between the generations and therefore a bridge to the future. We basically, are all hooked!

Jim and Tekla Mucci spear-headed the tree planning effort at the park in 2009 when I told them that the park used to sport 1,000 willow trees. During Season IV at least 50 trees have been planted and more are coming thanks to them.

The society secured a 1928 Erie box car from Northfork Southern to be used as a ticket booth and museum for the eventual ¾ scale train planned for the park. A $250,000 commitment has already been pledged toward this $750.000 project!

The Society and the Eldridge Park Conservancy have merged boards at the urging of our Rochester consulting group. Both organizations will, however, retain separate non-for-profit status for the purpose of funding power.

After the Carousel started spinning again on May 27th 2006, I thought that the project would slow down. Boy, was I wrong! People like Dale Bryant approached me. He took complete charge of the “Jasper II” project and will soon be certified to teach the boater safety and pilots and engineering courses so that our team of NYS Licensed Captains can continue to grow.

Dan Kane is my right hand. In charge of the train project, Dan is also a board member. He is always there to lend a hand, running the Carousel for special parties, repairing and building and wiring and slaving over every aspect of this enormous project. Dan Kane, an electronics specialist, carpenter, train expert and passionate volunteer, is an example of why we will never fail. He does the work for all of us!

clilck here for an enlargement of this photoDr. Brian Cassetta first approached me at the Carousel on roller blades, about 5 yrs ago. Since that time he has become another “brother “to me. A renowned physician, there is no limit to Brian’s talent and energy. Dr Cassetta is responsible for the dragon hatchlings project! "Gaspara,” “Eragon,” “Saphira,” “Conrit, “and “Glaurung” are our beloved paddle boats and have been wildly successful because of Brian. But most notable is Brian’s role as one of our events coordinators. The “IMATTER fest” is an event which Brian introduced in Season III. This music fest for teens grew in Season IV and a national documentary is being filmed about it. In Season V (in 2010) we look forward to expanding this event to an all weekend $300,000.00 celebration of national significance.

In short, Eldridge is becoming the centerpiece of the community. It is the place where we reminisce about the past, embrace the present and plan for the future. It is Home! And I am proud to be a part of it.

So where are we going and what is the plan? Well, as long as I lead the organizations we will proceed to the past.

The next step is to introduce a ubiquitously accepted revenue generating, sensible, timeless, easy to maintain, addition to the park. As much as I would like to first pursue “Chapel Grove “(A beautiful place for prayer, weddings, and lectures) and the Giant Train project, our miniature golf project will take us over the top and make EPCPS and the Conservancy unstoppable!! While we will still expand our fundraising efforts after obtaining miniature golf, we will be a financially self-sustaining entity.

We look forward to the eventuality of Chapel Grove, multiple Victorian pavilions, the ¾ scale train project, the trolley project, a dog walking park, Victorian lighting everywhere, stamped concrete walkways winding throughout the park, an amphitheater, a permanent stage, a copper roofed Victorian band stand, land scaping, and statues which will once again make Eldridge the most beautiful Victorian walking park in the World. It is the project of my life!

The pinnacle of my dream, however, will be “The Rebirth of the CASINO”, a 120 foot tall structure located on the south side of the lake, where it was originally. It will serve as a five star restaurant, convention center and residential apartment or office space.

click here for an enlargement of this photoIn conclusion, I am busier than a one legged dog trying, desperately, to bury a bone on a frozen lake! And I love it. MY GOAL IS TO SEE IT THROUGH TO COMPLETION. All I ask is that anyone who loves Eldridge and what we are doing to please think about leaving EPCPS in their will. We plan to expand our $600,000.00 endowment to at least $3,000,000.00 before we even touch any of the interest earned by the endowment. By leaving us in your will, you help to guarantee that this historic project will transcend all generations, so that our descendants can enjoy the inevitable feeling that envelops us when we experience Eldridge.

It cannot end ever again! All capital improvements at Eldridge are completed with building materials that never deteriorate. The best architects and builders are utilized in the design and fabrication of every improvement. If it won’t last at least 200 yrs, I won’t even consider it!

To find out more about this historic project, please take the time to explore our incredible web site. The archives tell the whole story and the naming rights and sponsorship section tells how you can help us.

Quite simply, you can do that by getting back to your family and joining ours - Experience Eldridge.

EPCPS President

Note: For previous monthly updates by Bob Lyon along with news
and stories about EPCPS, please check our archives.