Source: Detroit News
During my teenage summers I would get up at 5am on Saturdays and start washing cars...anyones cars: my mothers, my fathers, my brothers, and any neighbors who were willing to pay," said Laurie J. Marzejka. "When I had earned enough I would shower, change into a shirt, shorts, sandals, and shades and head-out to Edgewater Park.
I would spend the entire day with friends enjoying sunshine, snowcones, and slow-poke suckers all amid screams of delight." Youngsters squeal as Edgewater Parks roller coaster -- "The Wild Beast"-- goes over the top on opening day in the spring of 1942. "Nothing could be better than to take the Livernois/Grand River bus to Edgewater Park on a hot summer Saturday or Sunday," said Dennis Kreish. "Cotton candy, thrill rides, and lots of people. It was the early 60s. We would leave around noon.
Usually the four or six of us, Roman, Mark, Kathy, Diane, Barbara and myself would wait at the corner of Livernois and Horatio, just in front of a corner grocery store, to board the bus. We got off at Grand River and waited near what was the church Aretha Franklins father was pastor, although at the time we didnt know it. Entering Edgewater Park and hearing the screams of kids enjoying the Tilt-a-whirl, or the smell of cotton candy, and taking the bus ride home will always remain one of my fondest memories of the past."
Edgewater Park, Detroits westside funland for more than half a century opened in 1927 during the Depression. It was responsible for an untold number of romances. Always a good place to hang out, everyone had fun. The 20-acre park, located at Grand River (Actually Berg Road - WWW) and Seven Mile Road was operated for many seasons by Milton and Cyril Wagner. The main attraction was a rickety-looking wooden roller coaster known as the "Wild Beast". It had other names over the years including "Soul Train". Anyone who rode its twisting, torturous path experienced stomach wrenching thrills. A colossal 110-foot ferris wheel with free swinging gondolas, grabbed your attention.
A favorite at Edgewater was the Hall of Mirrors. The park hit its popularity peak in the 1930s, when it offered a relatively cheap way to forget the Depression, and in the wartime 40s when it became jam-packed, night after night, with young servicemen. It offered Dodgem cars, The Octopus, a carousel, Hall of Mirrors and a funhouse where sudden jets of air blew up the skirts of young ladies.
In April of 1944, Edgewaters summer opening was heralded in the News with the appearance of "Sky High Girl, an aerial artist who performs on perchpoles and trapeze bars." Edgewater flourished for many years fueled by early day junk food like Corn Dogs, Pronto Pups and Egg Cremes. The park sailed through the 50s despite a fire in October 1954 when lightning struck the metal-roofed dance hall. Two men died, including a musician returning to get his trombone. Four hundred people escaped from the wooden structure when the fire started. A fire set by a teenage arsonist in December 1955 damaged a section of the roller coaster, but it was no worse off once repairs were made.
Only one fatality was tied to the rides at Edgewater. It happened in August 1976. An eight-year old girl jumped off the giant ferris wheel before it stopped and was struck in the head. With the advent of the super highway and birth of multimillion dollar theme parks like Disneyland, its popularity waned. In September of 1981, after 54 years of operation, Edgewater Parks turnstiles clicked for the last time.