Eye on KELOLAND: Restoring Arnolds Park


ARNOLDS PARK, IA (KELO) — Arnolds Park in northwest Iowa is celebrating 130 years in 2019 and the family-focused facility continues to add new attractions. 

From new rides to a new Roof Garden, activity is ramping up thanks to the three-phase Restore The Park fundraising campaign. 

Summer is here and, at Arnolds Park, visitors are coasting into another memorable few months at the lake. 

“Nice to see the changes and now I get to bring my son and have him ride the same rides and roller coasters that we rode as kids. It’s nice,” Tillman said. 

Jacob Tillman has been coming to Arnolds Park since childhood. Now he’s taking it all in with his four-year-old son Jax. 

Matt Holsen: Which one is your favorite ride? 
Jax: The bumper cars. 
Matt Holsen: Why do you like them? 
Jax: Because every time you hit someone, they laugh because it’s funny.

In need of someone to bump into, this reporter didn’t pass up a chance to mess around a bit. 

While the bumper cars aren’t new here, this carousel is. The ride and the structure around it were built with funds donated recently by local supporters. 

The park tries to add new rides every year like the Wild Mouse. It’s actually a throwback to a popular ride here in the 50s and 60s.

Arnolds Park Marketing Director Paul Plumb says the coaster is set to open this month. 

“That’s a ride that always came up. They’d say, ‘Oh I love the Wild Mouse. That was one of my favorites.’ It’s kind of a thrill ride. We had one of those come available over the winter, that we heard about. Went through the process of purchasing that and getting it ready now,” Plumb said.

Near the park entrance sign, work is nearly complete on a more than $4 million Roof Garden. It’s the third phase of the Restore The Park campaign. 

“It’s a brand new facility. Just going to be tremendous. I thought it was going to be really nice but every time I walk in there, I think man it’s going to be an incredible facility,” Plumb said.

It will host concerts and weddings. The first show is set for August 2. The building can hold 1,100 people. 

“We’re going to try and expand our off-season a little bit. That was one of the main reasons we built a new facility. We’ll have bands in the fall and the spring also,” Plumb said. 

The first Roof Garden opened in 1923 and was lakeside. That building had two floors and saw a large number of stars pass through over time. You can see some of the history at the new music museum that just opened on site. 

“You know Johnny Cash was there. Jerry Lee Lewis. Roy Orbison, the ‘birds. A lot of great names that during the time, people were getting to see those bands for two and three bucks and had a great time. Now looking back, didn’t realize how great it was,” Plumb said. 

Capturing the nostalgia and creating new spots to enjoy at Arnolds Park.  It’s all being done, incredibly, through donations. 

“There’s a huge history to not only the park, but to the Roof Garden too that people just love the area, love the park and love the memories they have here,” Plumb said.

“That’s the whole idea of this fundraising project. We’re 130 years old this year and we’d love to be around another 130 years,” Plumb said. 

On top of new rides, Arnolds Park now features a park museum with classic rides and the new Iowa Rock N’ Roll Association Hall of Fame. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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