As I read PALISADES PARK by Alan Brennert back in January, I became caught up in Eddie and Adele Stopka’s story, as they started out working at Palisades Park (known to insiders as “The Park”) back in the 1930s running concessions and building their lives one summer season at a time. Amusement parks in the ’60s were very different from the extravaganzas we know now, like Disney theme parks, and PALISADES PARK captures the energy of these special places where memories were made.
The story has lots of heart as readers get to know not only Eddie and Adele, but also their daughter, Antoinette (nicknamed “Toni”), and her brother, Jack. They are a “Park” family and are happy for it. There are lots of wonderful historical references --- everything from Eddie’s time in Hawaii to the racial tensions of the ’60s --- all played out against the backdrop of the Park.
It’s as much fun as a rollercoaster, and reading it, you’ll feel like you are on the highest seat of a Ferris wheel stopped for a moment looking down and observing the excitement unfolding beneath you. By the way, PALISADES PARK brought up memories from my childhood, and as I read, I keep hearing this theme song in my head, which dates me but is a very humorous memory. And so many friends chimed in and sang as I told them about the book, proving just how popular this place was. Enjoy it and reflect on a much simpler time where life on the surface seemed idyllic, but chipping away at the veneer, it’s clear that it bore its own trials and complications.