Angela Park

Angela Park opened its gates to visitors in the summer of 1957, at a time when many other parks across the country were closing due to increasing operating costs and dwindling attendance. While other small parks were being abandoned, the Barletta hoped a family oriented park would work well for the Hazleton area.

The Barletta family purchased the land along Route 309 in Drums in the 1940s. They first used the area for family gatherings and picnics, and the matriarch, Angela, felt it would be ideal for a park. Unfortunately, she would pass away before the dream was realized, and the family named the park in her honor.

The park opened with six rides, including an out and back junior style wooden roller coaster. Built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and designed by John C. Allen, the 36 foot high ride could be enjoyed by the entire family. At a length of 700 feet, the one minute and ten second ride was mild compared to larger coasters. Each train was made up of four cars, capable of holding four passengers, for a total of 16 riders at a time.

At some point, the ride was named the Valley Volcano, though many simply referred to it as the roller coaster. Similar designs were also constructed at Hunt’s Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey, and at Gooding Zoo Park in Columbus, Ohio.

Another major attraction at Angela Park was the Olympic size pool, billed as the largest in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Complete with changing facilities, lounge chairs, and diving boards, many families bypassed the other attractions at the park and spent their day just at the pool.

Image courtesy of Ralph Decker

Other rides and attractions through the years included a Paratrooper, Swinging Ship, Carousel, Spiral Slide, Scrambler, Ferris Wheel, Antique Cars, Tea Cups, an assortment of Kiddie Rides, an interesting looking ride named the Swingin' Gym, as seen in the image above.

On July 29, 1959, thousands of children were in attendance at the park to see the Howdy Doody show. Angela Park regularly had special appearances and promotions to help increase attendance.

Each season, improvements were made, and when possible, new rides and attractions were added.

For the 1972 season, a C. P. Huntington miniature train ride was added, on a total of one mile of track. Portions of the track would be washed out from the rains of Hurricane Agnes in late June, but the park had the ride up and running in just two days.

By 1982, Angela Park boasted eight major rides, eight ‘kiddie’ rides, four refreshment stands, as well as souvenir stands, an arcade, pool, stage, athletic fields, picnic facilities and miniature golf. It was billed as the “Playground of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” and many of the managing staff were Barletta’s. There were also rumors that the family might be looking to sell the park.

Those rumors would come true in 1985, when the park was sold to the Mirth Master Corporation, based in Downington, PA. According to an interview with Rocco Barletta in 1989, the younger members of the family were not interested in operating the park.

Just two years later, in 1987, Mirth Master was filing for bankruptcy.

The following season, a newspaper report showed a hopeful future for the park, when management was touting the remodeling of the haunted house attraction, reopening as Rock Odyssey, and the repainted merry-go-round. Other attractions returning for 1988 included the Columbus, a small swinging ship ride, bumper cars, kiddie boats, scrambler, sky ride, and paratrooper.

Unfortunately, this season would be the last for the park. Several attempts to reopen the park failed, including one led by Dr. Robert Childs, who hoped the park could continue as a nonprofit organization. The park was put on the auction block in March of 1990, and the Valley Volcano was razed shortly after.

In 1993, the New Land Development Company, based in Dunmore, purchased the former park for $150,000. Although never official, the new owners considered several uses for the land, including operating a flea market.

Image courtesy of the Times Leader

The remaining structures at the park fell into disrepair and were vandalized after the park closed. The parking lot was used for several years in the late 1990s as a training facility for the Lackawanna Junior College Police Training program.

The remaining structures, including the building that housed the bumper cars, were demolished in early 2004. Other than concrete footers, crumbling pavement, and rotting remains, Angela Park is an open field where families once flocked for an afternoon of rides, swimming, games and food.

For more images of the park, souvenirs, and tickets, click here.
For images of how the park looks today, click here.

NEPA Defunct Park List

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