A Wurlitzer Wonder

A real gem near downtown Portland is the charmingly modest midway and roller rink at Oaks Park. I took Cora and her friend to skate there yesterday, and discovered a historical treasure. Oaks Park was first built in 1905, and is still surrounded by the same trees it was named after. It sits at the foot of Sellwood along the Willamette river. The midway only boasts of a dozen or so rides (including the very bizarre "Disco" which is a huge half circle ramp along which slides an enormous disc filled with riders) and the huge, wooden roller rink is operational all year long.
The first thing I noticed about the rink was the incredible Wurlitzer organ SUSPENDED over the middle of the floor. No one was playing it that day, but I learned that a man named Don Simmons was a popular player for years, and other organists have their own neon signs to light for their sessions on the organ. So cool!
The floor of the rink is built on pontoons so that it will actually FLOAT if there is a flood! A flood in 1948 wiped out the first wood floor, so they reinstalled it to rise with the waters. I suppose that's also why the Wurlitzer is suspended.
The rink is 103 years old, and is one of the oldest continuously operating rinks in America. I feel privileged to be able to take my daughter to skate here, and can't wait for the weather to warm up so we can try the midway!

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