Ontario Beach Park – #30

In mid January 1915 the Mayor of Rochester, Hiram Edgerton, started pushing for annexing of the Village of Charlotte into the City of Rochester. It would benefit Charlotte by giving them more city services and help the City by giving them full access to the Port of Rochester that was at Charlotte. Mayor Edgerton also noted that seeing as Charlotte would be part of the City, it would also mean that the trolley fare to the Park would only be 5 cents. Almost everyone was in favor of the annexation except NY State Railways (the trolley company) who said that they would lose $70,000 per year.

In those days if a city in New York State wanted to expand all they had to do was to have a bill passed by the NY State legislature. Now-a-days people in both of the jurisdictions have to vote yes on city expansion. So there are very few times in recent history that a city expands. The bill for annexation of the Village of Charlotte took a few months but did finally get approval from NY State. Charlotte would become part of Rochester on January 1, 1916.

The Park opened for a preview day on May 9th, then for the full season on May 29th. The ad, above, mentions a few new things. First is “Jitney.” Usually jitney refers to a small taxi but that makes no sense for the Park. Another new thing is “Aerial Ball Game.” I have no guess as to what that could be.

A newspaper article mentioned that Hilarity Hall has an escalator. But it was one on which people sit and go up to the balcony. Hilarity House had also been remodeled inside.

The park had a giant band organ installed in front of Hotel Ontario. It wasn’t in place for the opening as it was so large that a special truck had to be ordered to haul it to Charlotte. It was said to be as loud as 35 to 40 instruments. It had 100 rolls of music that it played by the world’s greatest composers. There is a band organ inside the carousel building but I am fairly sure that it is nor the same one.

There is a great article in the Billboard magazine of June 12th. Today Billboard is a magazine for the music industry but in 1915 it covered all kinds of entertainment news. This article describes Park attraction and who runs them. This list is directly from the article on the Park.

  • Hotel Ontario is managed by E. M. Chase.
  • Zoological Garden and souvenir stand run by Chas. Whitcom.
  • Motordrome managed by Geo. Lytle, with Harold Stuart, R. B. Roscoe and Denzle Roscoe as riders.
  • The Breezer in charge of Jim Burns.
  • The Striker managed by C. J. Mumm.
  • The Old Mill is in the hands of Harry Lancaster.
  • Lew Peyton’s Dixie Lew Minstrels have a space under a canvas tent.
  • Japanese bazaar is operated by Ko Kazai.
  • Bathing pavilion managed by Mike Minges.
  • Circle Joy Whirl (Flying Airships) run by Amlinger & Jones.
  • Dancing Pavilion managed and music from Nourse & Muntz.
  • Hilarity Hall run by Gene Martin, Tom O’Riley and Fred Fromm.
  • Watch Your Step – no operator given.
  • Park Hotel under management of Fred and Gus Werner
  • German Village run by Louis Englert.
  • Rifle Range, Aerial Ball game, and Midway Grocery are under control of E. H. Vaughan.
  • Carousel is under the charge of Ray O’Loughlin.

The open air stage continued to have mostly vaudeville acts. One of the opening acts was Lackland and Lackland a western roping act with two women ropers. On June 19th they had four bands play at the Park (Albany Council Band, Moose Band of Erie, Fifth-Sixth Regiment Band and Fifty-Fourth Regiment Band). They all played separately and then together making a giant band with about 190 members.

NY State Sportmen’s Association was back at the Park from June 8 to June 10 for another trap shooting contest. First carnival day was held on June 15th. That day they had a torchlight parade around the grounds at 9 p.m with a Miss Charlotte and Mr. Rochester on a float. Children’s Day was on Aug. 25th and children got free admission and free rides.  The season closed out with a Mardi Gras week.

Leonard Brang, aged 41 and from New York City, was hurt on June 11th by diving off the Charlotte pier. He struck the bottom with his head. He was placed in a trolley car which took him to the city line where it was met by an ambulance from General Hospital. It was first thought that he broke his neck and would be paralyzed below the waist. He died June 17th.

There were many company picnics at the Park throughout the season. There was a notice in the newspapers that Sibley, Lindsay & Curr department store closed at 1 p.m. so that employees can attend their annual outing at the Park. The next week Edwards Store did the same for their employees.

July 27th there was a Children’s Fairy Tale Pageant. Children had to come in costume and one prize was a Teddy bear with electric eyes. First prize winner was Edith Thompson of Hazelwoord Terrace dressed as a Quaker girl. She won $2.50 in gold. Movies were taken and shown around the country.

The season closed on Monday, Sept. 6th. An ad for closing day said that “Contrary to Reports, Ontario Beach Park, Next Year will Occupy the Same Grounds, But With Very Extensive Improvements.” The truth was that they did not know how the Park being part of the City of Rochester would affect them in 1916.