I dream of Hull the way I imagine my Grandmother dreamt of her homeland in Youhal, Ireland. I have a re-occurring dream of walking the length of Hull, the way we used to as kids when we would spend all our money, including our bus fare, at Paragon Park and had no way home but to walk. I think I’m the only kid in my family, or all of Hull for that matter, who grew up when Paragon was still there and never rode on the roller coaster. I always played it safe. Not like my reckless brothers. ~ “Dreaming of Beachfront Property,” excerpted from “The Jim and Dan Stories” by Colleen Redman
Many traditional amusement parks across the country, like the one my siblings and I grew up with in Hull, Massachusetts, have gone the way of drive-inn movies, few and far between. Condos now loom where our beloved Paragon Park once stood, and there’s a shopping mall where the drive-inn theatre used to be.
We knew from an early age what cotton candy tasted like and how tall you had to be to ride on the Bumper Cars. The girls in the family all owned stuffed animals that their boyfriends won for them at the arcade games, and most of us worked at Paragon selling tickets for rides or running the games during school summer vacations… “25 cents to play, 25 cents to win” or “Don’t be shy, come on over and give it a try,” my sister, Tricia, remembers calling into a microphone at one of the game booths she worked at.
I personally remember riding the Bumper Cars, the Scrambler, the Wild Mouse, the Round-up, the Tilt-a whirl, the Teacups, the Congo Cruise (which was called “the Red Mill” when I first rode it at the age of 5), the Caterpillar, and the Ferris Wheel. I got stuck in the Kooky Castle once when the ride stopped short in its track, and the Rotor made me sick.
But I especially remember and am nostalgic for the “Giant Coaster” (see photo), once claimed to be the biggest in the world. Even though I never rode on it (for the same reason I don’t bungee jump) the roller coaster was a hometown landmark that I thought would always be there. I knew I was home when, coming back into Hull from the Washington Boulevard, I would see the roller coaster and smell the sea air at the same time.
Paragon Park was torn down sometime in the mid 1980s. The only thing remaining is the Paragon Carrousel that Hull residents had to fight to save, and the fundraising efforts to keep the carrousel in Hull continue to this day. Whenever I go home I like to ride on the carrousel, which we called “the merry-go-round” when we were kids (also seen in the photo with the rounded roof).
I got a comment on “Loose Leaf” from Jeanne at “Out and Back,” recently. “Colleen, I think I found your roller coaster in Maryland,” the comment read. I had heard before that the Paragon Park roller coaster ended up in Maryland and with a little internet research I discovered that, indeed, it is alive and well in its second incarnation at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland.
It’s called the “Wild One” now, which means, I assume, that it’s no where near ready for retirement.
Post Note: Special thanks the LoveLink, the email group of mostly family members and a few Redman family fans that I belong to, for helping me remember the names of Paragon Park rides.