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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Remember Coney Island’s Bumble Bees? The popular kiddie ride in McCullough’s Kiddie Park left its spot on the Bowery when the family closed their park in 2012 after being unable to extend the lease. In April, the Bees will once again be awhirl after finding a wonderful new home in Canada.

ATZ learned the good news from the ride’s new owner, Jim Mills, who operates Select Shows, a traveling carnival based in Manitoba. “This past fall I purchased the Bumble Bee ride from McCullough’s Park in Coney Island,” Mills told ATZ. “During the past winter it has been totally rebuilt and going to hit the road this spring on my show.”

Coney Island Bumblebee

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration. Photo © Select Shows, Manitoba

Mills, whose family-run carnival operates from mid-April through the end of September in Manitoba and Ontario, sent us photos of the rehab. “There is a picture of the beginning of the make over and the rest are showing the painting of the last two as well as the new sweeps, all new hydraulics, electrical and complete body work, which alone for the Bees is about 400 man hours. We have put approximately $30,000 into this project so far,” says Mills, who promises to send more photos once the redo is completed and the ride is set up. He has put up a page on the show’s website about the history of the ride, which survived Hurricane Sandy. SO happy to see the Bees lovingly restored and ready to begin their new life on the road!

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration. Photo © Select Shows, Manitoba, Canada

The McCullough family operated amusements in Coney Island for four generations and their kiddie park had been on 12th Street and the Bowery since the 1960s. The often-photographed Bumble Bee ride was emblematic of Coney Island and frequently photographed with the Wonder Wheel or Parachute Jump in the background. When Astroland closed in 2008, some photographers’ captions said it was the end of the Bees because they did not realize the ride was part of a different park.

On Flickr we posted: Please note the Bumblebee ride on the Bowery and the kiddie rides surrounding it are NOT part of Astroland. McCullough’s Kiddie Park has 12 kiddie rides and is open for the 2009 season. The McCullough family is related to the Tilyous and have owned and operated rides in Coney Island for many years and we hope many years to come!

Coney Island Bumblebee

Coney Island Bumblebee under Restoration. Photo © Select Shows, Manitoba, Canada

Fun Facts about the Bumble Bees:

The ride’s trademark name Bumble Bee Bop was first used in 2001. This aerial kiddie carousel was designed and manufactured by Sellner, the inventor of the Tilt-A-Whirl.

McCullough’s Bumble Bee ride inspired Galloping Boy Designs T-shirt of an adventurous tabby seeing the sights of Coney Island from the back of a bumble bee. The Bees can also be glimpsed in numerous films and music videos shot in Coney.

Artist Chris DAZE Ellis, who painted a mural adjacent to McCullough’s Kiddie Park for the Dreamland Artist Club in 2004, pays tribute to the Bumble Bees in his painting Kiddyland Spirits. The 1995 painting is among his works currently on view in the touring exhibit Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Chris DAZE Ellis

Kiddyland Spirits, 1995, oil on canvas. Painting copyright Chris DAZE Ellis

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2014: Astroland Rocket Finds New Home Beside the Wonder Wheel

July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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Conklin Shows Banner by Fred Johnson

Canada’s Traditional Favorite Conklin Shows Banner by Fred Johnson. Photo via Treadway Gallery

We’ve come across vintage circus-style posters advertising carnivals but have rarely seen a painted banner except for the sideshow attractions. This one painted for “Canada’s Traditional Favorite Conklin Shows” circa 1950 by master banner painter Fred Johnson will be up for bid at a June 8th auction in Oak Park, Illinois held by Treadway Gallery. Bidding is also available online via live auctioneers.

The show’s founder J.W. “Patty” Conklin was born Joe Renker in Brooklyn and worked as a sideshow talker in Coney Island before arriving in Winnipeg in 1924. In the 1940s and ’50s, the Billboard frequently described him as “a Canadian midway biggie” and one of the keenest, most practical of midway operators.

In the era when the banner was painted, Conklin Shows played fairs and exhibitions in rural Quebec and Ontario before heading to Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition for Labor Day, according to a website on the carnival’s history. The show grew to become the largest touring carnival in North America, with a route that stretched from the South Florida Fair in West Palm all the way to the Calgary Stampede until it was swallowed up by midway consolidation in 2004. In the Northeast, Conklin played the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., and the now defunct Westchester County Fair and Belmont Fair, where we visited in 2003 to write a story for Education Week about the show’s traveling classroom for carny kids.

Measuring 94 inches high by 117 inches wide, the Conklin banner is signed by Fred Johnson, who painted canvas advertisements for all the big circuses, carnivals, and amusement parks during an illustrious 65-year career. It has a pre-sale estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 3, 2013: Up for Auction: Bill Lynch Shows Vintage Carnival Poster

February 4, 2013: Rare & Vintage: Girl to Gorilla Sideshow Banner

October 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Sideshow & Magic Banners by Fred Johnson

August 10, 2009: Westchester County Fair Mementos

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