NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 30, 2013

Interest growing in Newbury's long-shuttered theme park

(Continued)

“Back then Pease was an Air Force base (in Portsmouth, N.H.),” Callahan said. “A lot of the guys who worked at Adventureland were Pease Air Force men from out West who loved it there because they could work with the horses.”

“They were called the ‘fly boys,’” Lewis recalled. “They were all over the place.”

Men from the Air Force, as well as some local off-duty police officers, performed in skits, the women said. They could be the sheriff or the bad guy, a bank robber killed making his get-away, rolling off a roof to the dirt street below, all to the applause of park visitors.

The place was popular, at least at first, and it became part of the summer social scene for teenagers in the region.

“I had other high school friends who had jobs there,” Callahan said. “They played Little Bo Peep and the Old Lady in the Shoe.”

Zipper’s police intern, Isidro Estrada, researched the park, finding Adventureland had a romantic side.

“Two of those who worked there throughout their high school days were local residents Wilma and James Buckley,” Estrada wrote. “The Buckleys met 50 years ago, in the summer of 1963, and two years later they were married. During their time at Adventureland, Wilma worked in a concession stand in the Gingerbread House ..., while James was busy robbing banks and running away from sheriff’s deputies, part of his role as a Dodge City cowboy.”

And when it first opened, Lewis said, business was brisk, for she remembers selling lots of tickets. But it just didn’t last.

“I think it just wasn’t successful enough,” Lewis said.

Spalt, who died in 2009, built a number of small amusement parks during his lifetime, including Cowboy Town in Plainville and Storyland in Hyannis, as well as the one in Newbury.

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