Even after the most horrible winter, summer in all its glory always returns to Chicago. But something is painfully missing from our landscape this time. Like Chicago's beloved Riverview, Kiddieland Amusement Park is now just a treasured memory of countless generations for Chicagoans who grew up riding the Little Dipper, Steam Engine Train and my favorite, the Tilt-A-Whirl.
The outpouring of sentiment surrounding the historic park's closing after more than 80 years confirms its significant presence in the area. While the individual stories and memories may be different, we are all the same in having a little piece of our history taken away.
Not only did I spend my childhood there, but who would think Kiddieland could transform my adult life? A Tilt-A-Whirl ride on a blind date spun into the backdrop for a future marriage proposal and a fun, private wedding day photo session. Our entire wedding party roamed the park on a cold, damp pre-season Saturday and posed on the ride that started it all.
Throughout the years, we made our pilgrimage to the park with our daughters, watching them grow up to love the same rides we did as youngsters.
Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009, was Kiddieland's last day. I was there for a fond farewell. As a 20th wedding anniversary surprise, my husband won the bid for the last ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl where our story began. Even blue sunny skies could not mask the huge cloud of sadness as each ride was closed down forever-from the ceremonial reading of its history to the starting and ending of the ride to the actual draping of the cars and closing of the gates. It was the end of an era and we were part of this historic event, unwilling accomplices in the shuttering of our favorite amusement park.
Summers won't be the same. Thanks for the memories, Kiddieland. It's been a great ride.