‘Welcome back, FunTime!’ Return thrills fans of Gulfport park
January 31, 2016 - Picnic Time
GULFPORT — The 36 merry-go-round horses are packaged into dual rows in a Biloxi garage, available a day they will saunter again during FunTime USA, a landmark thesis park a O’Neal family is bringing behind to U.S. 90.
They have gifted a hiccup or dual over zoning, though Rafe O’Neal, co-owner of a new FunTime, believes a landmark park should be open by a finish of May or early Jun opposite Cowan Road from a strange park broken by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
“Everybody’s kind of endangered we haven’t incited dirt yet,” pronounced Romy Simpson, O’Neal’s business partner and FunTime co-owner. But she and O’Neal contend a work will go quick after they accept final clearway from a city, that is operative with them to move behind an entertainment park that had entertained generations.
The entertainment park will once again underline adults’ and children’s rides, a go-cart track, fender boats and a renouned tiny golf march with petrify figures.
A new further will be a cruise pavilion where families can sup from food trucks. Simpson pronounced they are anticipating 3 or 4 food trucks will offer a accumulation of menus.
The park will have a retro design, with about one-third of a tiny golf total returning from a strange park. They are being stored in a nation right now.
Life of amusement
Rafe O’Neal’s uncle, Ray O’Neal, built a strange sculptures and is bustling conceptualizing new ones. A dinosaur is in a skeleton “just because,” Ray O’Neal said. The dinosaur will be a devout cousin to a antiquated quadruped that loomed over Biloxi’s traveller frame before a storm.
As a 16-year-old, Ray O’Neal started work for Ken Davis during an entertainment park that non-stop in a 1950s during a feet of Veterans Avenue on a beach.
“This entertainment business is all I’ve ever done, usually about,” pronounced Ray O’Neal, who worked during his initial entertainment park during age 16 and is now 68. “I’ve never had a genuine job.”
Ray O’Neal came aboard during FunTime in a 1970s to build a tiny golf course. He schooled what has turn a mislaid art from Lee Koplin, a father of Goofy Golf who built a march years ago in Biloxi.
Gradually, Ray O’Neal bought out FunTime, starting with a snack stand.
He saved as many of a total as he could after Katrina, along with a merry-go-round horses and gears, and anything else he could find on a scoured beachfront lot.
“We suspicion he was crazy,” Rafe O’Neal said, “but now we think, ‘Wow, we did us a unequivocally large favor.'”
For example, Rafe O’Neal said, replacement of a merry-go-round will cost usually about $25,000, compared with during slightest $250,000 for a new one. Built in a 1950s, a float has cast-aluminum horses built by an Allan Herschell company. Herschell began production carousels in 1883.
Ray O’Neal’s daughter Katie was in a final radio blurb for FunTime when she was a toddler. Now 13, she is conceptualizing a FunTime opening where Humpty Dumpty will sit. Originally, a impression was going to be in a fountain, though Katie insisted visitors contingency be means to lay on a wall beside Humpty Dumpty, who did not nudge during Katrina.
“She is still one of my motivating reasons for doing this,” Rafe O’Neal said. “What my uncle gave to us, we am vehement to give to her in return. When my uncle built all that stuff, we don’t consider he satisfied how many people he touched.”
Because a family is doing so most of a work, they trust a park can be built for $1 million to $1.2 million.
As a family shares skeleton for FunTime’s lapse on a Facebook page, sentimental stories are pouring in. Brett Cronier of Escatawpa wrote about perplexing to take a immature lady to FunTime on their initial date. Because an collision trapped them on Interstate 10, they pulled adult as a park was shutting for a evening.
The good news, Cronier said: “We usually distinguished a 16-year anniversary and have 3 pleasing children. we am looking brazen to carrying a date we never had and pity a fad we had as a child with my possess children. So, acquire back, FunTime!”