NOVI, MI (August 1, 2016) – Michigan State Representative Kathy Crawford (R – 38th), who is Chairman of the Novi Historical Commission as well as a life-long resident of Novi, will recapture the magical wonder of The Walled Lake Amusement Park and Casino on Monday August 22 when she gives a perspective of the park's heyday to Fox Run retirement community residents. Her presentation will be held from 1:30 – 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.
She will bring artifacts found on the Amusement Park site when it was excavated for the current Pavilion Shore Park, just west of Fox Run. These artifacts include some broken tile from the bath houses as well as bathhouse tags which were hooked onto bathing suits indicating personal baskets in the bathhouse.
There are a few other small items in a little shadow box that will be displayed, as will vintage photos of the Park and Casino and some pictures of postcards and signs. Fox Run residents will share their stories of The Walled Lake Amusement Park and Casino during her interactive presentation.
Crawford will discuss the early history of Walled Lake, all of the various activities on the property, the rides on the Amusement Park property, the large speed boats, and boardwalk activities. The Casino was not the type of Casino having gambling, but it was a large dance hall where many big bands played. Tommy Dorsey and Stevie Wonder were among the headliners who performed there.
Crawford is passionate about preserving the history of The Walled Lake Amusement Park and Casino and beach, as well as preserving all of Novi's history. She grew up on a farm on Grand River Avenue within 3 miles of The Walled Lake Amusement Park and Casino. Her family had a gas station and food counter on the main road leading to the lake and beach. "Many people heading to the park bought gas and fishing bait from us as well as fresh sweet corn," she said.
Hundreds of thousands of people from the Detroit Metro area and beyond made Walled Lake their weekend and vacation destinations every year. Camping was available nearby at what is now called Lakeshore Park. Cottages on the lake were available for rental. Companies, such as Ford and GM had their annual picnics there and the headline celebrities performed at the Casino several nights a week.
"There was something on the property for everyone, no matter the age: fishing, swimming, boating, Amusement Park rides, contests of strength, such as tug-of-war competitions between large regional companies, picnics, camping, music, dancing, roller skating rink and more," she said.
Amusement parks such as Walled Lake, Edgewater Park, and Bob Lo were extremely popular in the 1940s - 1960s. One of Fox Run's residential buildings is named in honor of Edgewater.
"One of my favorite memories of the The Walled Lake Amusement Park was the "House of Mirrors" which completely distorted your reflection, making you very short and squatty or long and lean." said Crawford. "That seemed so magical to me. It would be impossible for me to think of the park, however, without imagining the wonderful tantalizing smell of cotton candy being made before your very eyes. It was hypnotizing to watch all of the colors being added and smelling that warm sugar being fluffed."
A number of Fox Run residents have told Crawford of their special "dates" they had at the Park. At least one resident couple had their first date at a dance in the Casino and then eventually married.
"Oddly enough, many of us who lived in rural Novi very close to the Park were not allowed to go there unless our fathers took us," said Crawford, who was never was allowed in the Casino. "Too much riff-raff there," her dad told her.
Crawford's presentation will include a free raffle for door prizes related to Novi history as well as the Novi Library, where a local History Room is located. An ice cream social -- with ice cream from the Guernsey Farms Dairy -- will be held at the conclusion of the presentation.
About Kathy Crawford:
Kathy Crawford was first elected to serve the people of the 38th House District in 2014. Located in Oakland County, the district includes Lyon Township, part of Northville city, Novi city, Novi Township, South Lyon city and Walled Lake city. Crawford serves on the House Committees on Families, Children, and Seniors, Workforce and Talent Development, Health Policy and Regulatory Reform.
Crawford worked as a professional in the field of aging for more than 30 years in Oakland County. She was one of the founders of the Michigan Association of Senior Centers, assisted the State of Michigan in writing the rules to certify professionals in the field of aging and was Michigan's second senior center director to become certified
She is past chair and member of the Novi Retirees Association, and is a member of the American Business Women's Association. She has authored several workbooks for senior center directors.
She and her husband Hugh have been married for 50 years. They have three grown children, Doug, Amy and Kelly; and four grandchildren. She and Hugh were baptized and married at the Novi Methodist Church.