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Fun House Frenzy

March 21, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Fun House Frenzy

The passage of time has brought many changes to the Okoboji area, especially the iconic Arnold's Park Amusement Park. Once part of the attraction was a fun house that now only exists as a memory.

"It was a race either to get to the Sugar Bowl, get to the slide or get to the barrel to walk in through the barrel," Marsha Jewell said.

The fun house closed for good in 1987, bringing an end to decades of summer excitement.

"All the memorabilia that was in the park, the signs and the rides and different parts of the rides, was sold at auction," Jerry Clark said.

Even though the fun house was no more, someone still had a vision of bringing the magic back to the Okoboji area. With that idea, the Boji Bay Fun House Pavilion was born.

"We opened last June to the public, but this has been an ongoing process since about 2008, getting the land, getting the building plans and trying to house all this in one big building," Carol Anderson said.

The pavilion was built so that the slide, the barrel and the sugar bowl could live again.

"A great asset for the town of Milford that Dan brought these here and to make them work and it's just, people are just amazed when they come in here to see the old toys again," Clark said.

"Everybody that comes in the door always has a story to share, whether it's about the sugar bowl, whether it's about the barrel, whether it's about the skinned knees or who got to play king of the hill," Anderson said.

One look at the pavilion toys sends visitors on a trip down memory lane.

"Like a kid! I mean, bringing back memories of the fun times when I was a kid," Mick Baack said.

"I looked at the slide and I thought it looks a lot bigger now than it was when I was a kid, and that really floored me when I looked at this," Jewell said.

The Sugar Bowl is moving much slower than it once did, but it was a ride that people either really loved or tried to avoid.

"I also remember hating the Sugar Bowl because the boys were so mean. They would get up on the top of it and play king of the mountain," Charree Sweeten said.

"'Oh, they're going to run the Sugar Bowl, let's go over there and get on it,' so we can have the fun that the Sugar Bowl gave us which was usually king of the hill. If you weren't too big, you were usually in the valley," Baack said.

Pavilion goers can only look at the barrel and the sugar bowl, but the slide is open for riders, as long as you sign a waver, that is.

The fun house toys are back, and now the next generation will be able to enjoy them.

"I think that it's interesting to watch their parents or their grandparents try to explain it to them, how much fun it was and it being contained in that particular housing," Sweeten said.

"That's one of the things I enjoy doing is talking about the way it was, and they can see the way it was and they go 'Oh, life back then was kind of neat,'" Baack said.

It's a message made easier to pass along as you slide through Okoboji's past.

Concerts, proms and weddings are now being held at the pavilion with the iconic toys as a backdrop. If you would like more information about what they have to offer, you can check out the Boji Bay Fun House Pavilion website.

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