Free train and carousel rides all summer at Oaks Amusement Park

INCLUDES VIDEO VIGNETTE Here’s why families, all across outer East Portland, took the short drive to the Willamette River for some fun and relaxation at this historic entertainment destination this summer. This article has been updated since published …

Here at historic Oaks Amusement Park, kids and grownups are treated to free rides around the grassy meadow on the Oaks Park Train this summer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After not being able to welcome visitors for the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, this year historic Oaks Amusement Park has truly been a place where, as they say, “The fun never ends”.

Celebrating being open to serve families again, the leadership of the Oaks Park Association, the nonprofit that owns and operates the amusement park and picnic grounds, decided to offer free rides on two of their most popular and historic attractions – and has announced a return of its famous Oktoberfest; more about that in a moment.

Ride Foreman Kieran Andrews makes sure guests enjoy their time at Oaks Amusement Park

About those free rides: “It’s true, we wanted to commemorate or re-opening by making rides on the Oaks Park Train, and on our 1912 Herschell-Spillman hand-carved menagerie carousel ride, free to everyone who comes,” grinned The Oaks Ride Foreman Kieran Andrews – a veteran summer worker at the park since 2017, and also recent graduate of Reed College.

“We’ve always had an ‘open midway’, which just means guests don’t have to pay a gate fee just to get in, as they do at many amusement parks,” Andrews pointed out. “Being just north of Sellwood Riverfront Park, and right off the Springwater Corridor Trail, people wander in here all the time, just for the fun of it!”

“While our walk-in guests may not plan on spending the day, and riding all of our great attractions here, we’re still giving them opportunity to enjoy these two rides,” Andrews observed.

Additionally because there is no entrance charge, or requirement to buy any food, beverages, or snacks, there many families arrive to use their free picnic areas. “Many of our picnic spots, along the Willamette River, are available on a first-come first-served basis for family groups; those guests are also welcome to enjoy these two family rides, free, all season long,” Andrews said.

Guests Sovanny Fanh, her niece, and A.R. Mohsenian, take a free ride on the historic Herschell-Spillman carousel at Oaks Park.

The small-but-mighty C.P. Huntington locomotive pulls a train full of folks past the Oaks Amusement Park Dance Pavilion – rounding the bend toward the family picnic area.

“The best part about working here, for me, is that I really enjoy working where we help people be happy, and interacting with families who are having fun,” Andrews told East  Portland News, as he left to make his rounds.

So far, at least 3,000 guests have been given these free rides, since this plan for 2021 was announced on June 17.

Oaks Park’s Oktoberfest planned; then cancelled

Music, food, and dance were scheduled to return in 2021 for the park’s famous Oktoberfest celebration — but COVID-19 coronavirus concerns shut it down until 2022. East Portland News archive image

In mid-August, we heard from Oaks Park Association Marketing and Events Director Emily MacKay that the famous Oaks Amusement Park “Oktoberfest” would resume, after just being a take-out affair last year.

However, on August 24, MacKay announced that the astounding rise in cases of the COVID-19 “Delta Variant” in Oregon had made it seem impractical to bring back the live in-person Oktoberfest this month after all. “Oaks Park management has decided that the best course of action now is to postpone our annual Oktoberfest celebration until 2022.

“The essence of Oktoberfest centers around people gathering in the Festhalles for extended periods of time, while they eat, drink, dance, and sing to live music,” MacKay explained. “Safety precautions, like wearing masks, or keeping an appropriate social distance, are difficult to enforce in a Festhalle environment. The situation is just too uncertain to hold the event his year.”

“The situation is just too uncertain to hold the event his year; however we are looking forward to 2022,” MacKay concluded.

To find out more about Oaks Amusement Park, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

>> On our Front Page: Guest Lauren Miller proves that people of any age enjoy riding the century-old Oaks Amusement Park carousel.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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