Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, November 13, 2011

TR: Strickers Grove - Father's Day, 2012

One of our parish's annual traditions is the Parish Picnic each Father's Day. For the last several years, this event has been held at Stricker's Grove. Stricker's Grove being mainly a small private amusement park in Ross, Ohio that specializes in group outings. Also, since the park has been discovered, the few times a year it is open to public have been steadily getting more crowded.

I typically invite Rideman down to share the picnic and rides with me. It's usually a family outing, but with Mom not feeling well, Rideman and I headed out the park alone. True to form, Stricker's runs two ride sessions with a meal break in the middle. Rideman indicated he would be down for the later session. So around 3:30 he collects me, and we head to the park. It was actually a wise move that we avoided the early ride session, as that also meant we avoided the storm that went through the area.

Oh wait, I spoke too soon, just as we turned onto I-74, the rains started picking up again. Is this really a wise move? We continued to the park. The first thing we noticed before we even got to the park is a swinging pirate ship sitting next to the Tornado that neither of us remembered being there. This will need some investigation. The rain stopped just long enough for us to park, get through the front gate, use restrooms, and get some free beverages. I took the time to sign up to deal blackjack at the Parish Festival in July, and then we realized we got there just as the rides were closing for the break.

We positioned ourselves in the line to enter the big reception hall building for dinner, and at that point the line extended back to the picnic grove. Not long after the doors opened, the rains came back, which greatly shrank the line as some people ducked into the picnic shelter to wait for a break in the action to dash into the building, and also as the crew inside the building rerouted the queue so people could wait inside.

The meal was the usual, burgers, bratts, hot dogs and roast corn provided by the park, served with a pot luck buffet of side dishes and desserts provided by parishioners. We enjoyed dinner, and lo and behold when the rides reopened, the rain was gone for the day!

As I alluded to earlier, first a walk of the midway was in order. It looks like the arcade building replaced the garage doors with real glass doors, and at first things looked normal. On the left hand side of the midway, it started off with the carousel, jumping jumbos, train, Big Eli Ferris Wheel, Tip Top, and Scrambler. On the ride were some midway games, then a big shelterhouse filled with little kids rides (boats, cars, and rockets), the Kiddie Turtle, Kiddie Whip and Teddy Bear coaster.

It was the back half of the midway where some serious rearranging took place. The helicopter ride is gone, and in its place the Tilt A Whirl has been moved fro its spot on the right next to the Tornado, to a spot on the left between the Scrambler and the former spot of the Flying Skooters. The Tilt has a slightly larger footprint than the helicopter ride it replaced, but that is okay, because the new Pirate ride fills in the spot the Flying Skooters vacated, and runs in back of the Tilt.

The new pirate ride is clearly not ready, as it is missing a loading platform amongst other things. Turning my attention to the right hand side, the Electric Rainbow (Super Round Up) has moved to the spot the Tilt vacated, and that leaves one more spot, which is where the Flying Skooters took up the place the Electric Rainbow was, which means the Skooters kind of went back to their original location.

We headed right for the Tornado, and with they very small crowd it would be a walk on all day if you were not picky about seat selection, Most of the day was spent riding the Tornado, and the good news is the ride no longer squeals like crazy going around the curves, so it looks as if the ride has received some off season care, the not as good news is whatever care they gave it has seemed to correct the "mistake". The double down on the third pass through the structure still provides some airtime, but it much gentler than it was in the past. In short the brief bursts of violent airtime seem to be gone.

I was glad to see the ride had gotten some care, as I had some concern about the park the last year or so. Our other favorite ride is the Flying Skooters, which is a consistent performer. It's a ride where you feel like you are doing everything right, and should get that snap and violent tub action, but you don't.

When we weren't riding those two rides, we took a tour of the midway. Electric Raibow got a nice new pad next to Tornado, and they even restored the back gate, so it flush loads. This at a time when most parks are blocking off the back gate. I do wonder if it will ever get its scenery panels back. The ride got some new scenery panels the year Pugh operate LeSourdsville Lake. Stricker's bought the ride soon after but never put the scenery panels in that fit between the spokes of the wheel. Now they have moved the ride, but the panels are still not installed. They even moved the scenery panels and put them underneath the ride in the place they were in the former location.

Teddy Bear gave its consistent ride, and Tilt gave a slightly above average ride. We didn't bother with Tip Top or Scrambler. Their Scrambler never gets up to anything even approaching proper running speed, and Tip Top is not that interesting. It is a classic case of an old ride that people raved about on RRC about 15 years ago, until operators started running them again, then you figured out why they faded away in the first place.

Our Ferris Wheel ride exhibited the usual interesting balancing the park has used, as in they never seem to get it. The train ride is sometimes interesting to take, and this year was no exception. There is a schism afoot with the Hamilton County Fair. It hit all new levels this year when the 4H decide to pull out of the fair, and run its own fair out at Stricker's Grove. While we rode the train ride, we could see work going on for the construction going on to convert the big athletic field in back of the reception hall into a fairgrounds.

Rideman was also interested in the Jumping Jumbos ride, beause it was opeerating only 4 of its 6 sweeps, not only that the other 2 sweeps were completely removed from the ride. And they were right next to each other. He verified the ride did have a State operating permit displayed.

We also learned that the pirate ride was purchased as a fixer upper, and they hope to have it ready by 2012, and that by now LeSourdsville Lake has pretty much sold off or demolished every ride.

With that, we left the park to go get some Diamonback rides to close out the night.


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