Location: Bristol, CT
Time goes as time usually does, but in Connecticut there's a park that time seems to stand still. To say that nothing has changed would be untrue, however the heart of the park has never changed. With a history longer than a particular park in Ohio, the town of Bistrol has had a hit on its hands since 1846.
A man named Gad Norton came up with an idea after a failed science experiment, that thousands had originally come out to see. He then built a path around the lake and some picnic tables. His park was just beginning. The people originally came to Lake Compunce for the swimming, boat rowing, and just to enjoy life. In 1851 with Isaac Pierce on hand, the two established the firm of Pierce and Norton, which brought more money into the park. In 1914 the first coaster, The Green Dragon came to the park, and thrilled people until 1926. In 1927, the Wildcat coaster came to the lake. The out and back classic designed by Herbert Schmeck has been bringing smiles ever since.
As time passed, Lake Compounce stayed quiet throughout the decades. With nothing really being added to the park the only thing that changed over time was ownership, and that would happen often. The Norton family owned the park out right until his grandson Isaac sold his shares in 1966. The changes would only begin there as the park changed hands many times since. After a dreadful '86 season as Hershey Lake Compounce, Hershey realized they bit off more than they could chew and quickly packed up shop. Joseph Entertainment Group didn't have much luck either, they cared more about putting on concerts than caring for the park. This became apparent when they declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991.The name of Lake Compounce Festival Park didn't stick either and it was clear the end was near until a group of people came along with some hope. They saw the fate of this once cherished amusement park and wanted to change that fate. Steven Barbarino led the group, and knew it wasn't going to be an easy task. After a few lack luster seasons of only opening for a short couple of weeks, and only once on the 4th of July, help was needed fast. FunTime Inc. came in to mange the park in 1994 after Barbarino group purchased the park. Lake Compounce's future was once again up in the air when Premier Parks bought FunTime, and they opted out of the contract because it bought a little park near by called Riverside Park. Several companies came knocking, however it was not to mange the park, but to own the park out right. Lake Compounce was then handed over to Kennywood Entertainment in 1996. At last, a match was made in heaven, and true love would be shown the park which was something that had been needed for many years.
On May 21, 2000, there was a mad dash of guests to the park with the opening of the new coaster, Boulder Dash and the park never looked back. This terrain out and back was built by CCI gave a thrill like no other. It even won the Golden Ticket Award for best wooden coaster in 2004 and recently in 2013. If this ride looks too scary you can always try the Zoomerang a Vekoma boomerang that opened in 1997, and a coaster called Kiddie Coaster also opened that same year.
As we all know time is endless, but togetherness and family is what originally kept this park going throughout the years, as was never giving up hope. Even after Kennywood Entertainment was sold to Parques Reunidos in 2007, the park never lost it's heart. It's that strong heart and love that keep the people coming back to the oldest amusement park in America.
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