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Two popular rides are free all summer, at historic and famous Oaks Oaks Amusement Park, to celebrate being open again

DAVID F. ASHTON - 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 parks family picnic area.After being closed down for the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, historic Oaks Amusement Park this summer has truly been a place where, as their slogan says, "The fun never ends".

Celebrating being open to serve families, the leadership of the Oaks Park Association, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the amusement park and picnic grounds decided to offer free rides to everyone on two of their most popular attractions.

"It's true, we wanted to commemorate our re-opening by making riding the Oaks Park Train, and our 1912 Herschell-Spillman hand-carved menagerie carousel rides, free to everyone who comes," said Oaks Park's Ride Foreman, Kieran Andrews – a veteran summer worker at the park since 2017, and a recent graduate of Reed College.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Oaks Park guests Sovanny Fanh, her niece, and A.R. Mohsenian take a free ride on the historic Herschell-Spillman carousel at Oaks Amusement Park. "We've always had an 'open midway', which means guests don't have to pay a gate fee just to get in, as is required 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 giving them opportunity to enjoy these two rides at no charge," Andrews observed.

Additionally, because there is no entrance fee, or any requirement to buy food, beverages, or snacks there, many families come and use the free picnic areas. "Many of our picnic spots, along the Willamette River, are available on a first-come first-served basis for family groups. These guests can also enjoy these two family rides, all season long," Andrews assured.

"The best part about working here, for me, is that I really enjoy working at a place where we help people be happy and interact with families who are having fun," Andrews mentioned, as he left to make his rounds.

So far, 3,000 guests have gotten these free rides, since they were announced on June 17.

Oktoberfest planned; reconsidered; then cancelled

In mid-August, THE BEE 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." McKay also told us that – at the press time for this issue – it had not yet been decided whether to make Oktoberfest dinners again available to-go this year, as in 2020. Whichever their decision about that, it should be announced in due course on their website – www.oakspark.com/oktoberfest – so you might want to check that, now and then, to see.

Meantime, to see folks enjoying those all-summer-long free rides, here's a brief BEE video – youtu.be/TP7Zq4W5DzI


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