Niagara Gazette

Communities

August 30, 2013

Plenty of stories behind Kiddieland exhibit in NT

Rides, area at new museum exhibit have a history all their own

Niagara Gazette — When the long-awaited Kiddieland exhibit, with its four working Herschell rides, opens to the public today at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, it marks the culmination of dozens of stories under the overarching theme of a museum with a dream.

Here are a few of them:

•••

Generations of Western New York children grew up riding the rides at Page's Whistle Pig in the Town of Niagara, at the corner of what is now the intersection of Packard and Military roads. And Peter Page grew up with them.

Three of those rides -- a helicopter, boat ride and pony cart ride -- now have new homes at the Kiddieland exhibit, and Page couldn't be happier that they've found a new life.

"If my father was here now," he told those at the dedication last week, "he would be so proud."

Page's Whistle Pig, an area institution, was opened in 1939 by Pete Page, Page's grandfather. The rides, so familiar to generations of Niagara-area children, were a later addition by his father, Bernie Page, starting in 1950 with the pony cart ride that now will run at the museum.

Like all the rides, it has a story. Bernie Page had originally purchased 12 real ponies to give rides to children at the site, Peter Page said. That plan, unfortunately, was ill-fated.

"This ride came to Page's because a horse bit my sister," he said, motioning to the pony cart ride. "This ride here replaced those ponies."

More rides came and went throughout the years, with many people who helped keep them up and running. The last year they ran was 2006, Peter Page said. Then the Proefrocks approached him on behalf of the museum ... and the rest is history.

"It's wonderful. I'm sure my father's happy," he said. "His spirit was behind me saying, 'Do it.' "

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