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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

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Astroland's flickering, shimmering, blinking lights are now dark.
Astroland's flickering, shimmering, blinking lights are now dark.

Farewell Astroland

I know that as Milwaukeeans you had your small amusement parks, all of which have pretty much gone. Now, the little paradise of rides of my childhood has officially closed. And I'm sad.

Once in a while we went to "Nellie Bly," a small amusement park -- named for the famous journalist -- located near the mouth of the Hudson River Narrows, near the Verazzano Bridge, in Brooklyn. But, like many generations of New Yorkers before us, we "vacationed" at Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Astroland amusement park.

After a closing scare last year, Astroland officially closed yesterday. No more Cyclone. No more little fire engines for the kids (I'll spare you the embarassing photos of a young me here), no more bumper cars, no more Astro Tower, no more tea cups.

Last May I was at Astroland and maybe because it's the first time I saw it as a father, tears nearly came to my eyes and I thought about how much I wished my son was with me then to ride on the kiddie rides that I rode with my brother.

The new owners say that the Cyclone, a landmark, will continue to operate in the future and that they will add new rides to Astroland. In the meantime, the old rides are being sold.

Amazingly, Nellie Bly Amusement Park apparently survives and even thrives under new management, but Astroland has not been so lucky. And neither will future generations of Brooklyn boys and girls be lucky enough to experience its charms.

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