News createt: 26-08-2010
Zippin Pippin Replicia Receives Funds
As a child in the 1940s, Doug McGee often visited Bay Beach Amusement Park and wished the place had a roller coaster.
Now, the Door County resident is making it happen with a $100,000 contribution to the Zippin Pippin fundraising effort.
"Finally, the dream is coming true," McGee said Wednesday during groundbreaking ceremonies for the $3 million roller-coaster project.
Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt joined McGee and other city leaders in celebrating the start of the roller-coaster project. Work is expected to continue all winter, with a grand opening next May when Bay Beach opens for the 2011 season.
Some city officials have opposed the project because they view it as a frivolous expenditure at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.
Schmitt, however, said the Zippin Pippin will draw big crowds to city-owned Bay Beach and will become a moneymaker that will offset future tax increases.
"This is the right thing to do," he said.
It is a recreation of a historic wooden roller coaster that operated for many years in Memphis, Tenn., and was renowned as Elvis Presley's favorite amusement park ride.
To obtain the Zippin Pippin rights and build a replica, the city is borrowing $2.4 million and trying to raise $600,000 in private donations. Schmitt said donations have totaled $255,000 so far, including McGee's contribution.
Tom Meinz, a former Wisconsin Public Service Corp. executive, along with his wife, Sue, were named co-chairpersons of the fundraising drive.
Meinz told the crowd Wednesday he remembered taking his children to Bay Beach, and he hoped the Zippin Pippin would become an important part of the amusement park's future success.
"It's a great, safe place to be," he said. "You can always enjoy your time at Bay Beach."
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