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October 18, 2006

Vernon Keenan Flyer Comet Coaster Meets The Wrecking Ball

Lunenberg, MA -- 66 years after it was built the Flyer Comet roller coaster at Whalom Park was demolished this morning. Workers removing the remaining structures at the former lakeside amusement park destroyed the historic wooden coaster in less than two hours.

The property is currently being cleared for redevelopment. Global Property Developers plans to build 240 condominiums on the former Whalom Park property.

Flyer Comet designed by Vernon Keenan was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1940. This wooden thriller had a figure-8 layout and stood 65-feet tall. Flyer Comet was the replacement for the Shooting Star roller coaster that was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938.

Whalom Park began as a trolley park in 1893. Built by trolley car operator Leominster and Fitchburg, the 30-acre park was a way to lure riders onto the trolley cars on weekends. Two decades later amusement rides were added starting with a Carousel in 1914. A ballroom was built shortly after, along with more amusement rides and finally the park's first roller coaster.

The park was successful for many years until it started its decline in the 1970's.

Whalom Park and the Flyer Comet last operated for the 2000 season. The owners cited financial problems as the reason for closing the amusement park.

An attempt to save the park was unsuccessful and it was eventually sold to a developer. Local residents opposed to the development have been unsuccessful in their attempt to block the project through the courts.

For local residents who grew up at Whalom Park it was a difficult day. A group gathered outside the park to watch the destruction and shared stories of their memories from the park.

A portion of the Flyer Comet track and the coaster's train were salvaged and may find their way into an exhibit. Also, spared at the moment was the historic building that housed Whalom Park's antique carousel. The Carousel that once operated was sold piece by piece at auction at few years ago. The park's historic ballroom was destroyed by a fire four years ago.

Related Stories
Public Called Upon To Help Save Whalom Park January 21, 2002
Suspicious Fire Destroys Historic Whalom Park Ballroom March 4, 2002
Four Teens Charged In Setting Blaze at Whalom Park March 25, 2002

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