Members, Log In. Not a member? Sign Up

April 2, 2007

Rare Band Organ Begins Playing At Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz, CA -- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the new home for a rare Wurlitzer 165 Band Organ that once played at San Francisco's former Playland-At-The-Beach amusement park.

The organ was originally shipped to the Playland-At-The-Beach from the Wurlitzer factory in upstate New York in December 1918. It remained at the San Francisco amusement park until it closed in 1972.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will have the only working Wurlitzer 165 known to be on display in California. The organ began playing beside the Boardwalk's Carousel on Saturday and will continue playing daily.

"We are very proud to be able to preserve this beautiful piece of California amusement park history," said Charles Canfield, Santa Cruz Seaside Company president. "Many people around the San Francisco Bay Area may remember this organ from childhood visits to Playland."

"The Wurlitzer Style 165 band organ was a highpoint in band organ engineering," says band organ expert and historian, Tim Trager. "Its sophisticated duplex perforated paper roll system allows the instrument to play the music of a concert band."

"Each selection is a nostalgic time capsule allowing the instrument to perform the same music heard by the patrons of Playland years ago," added Trager.

According to Trager, there are less than a dozen Wurlitzer Style 165 band organs known to exist and most are in private collections.

The Boardwalk is preparing a new display area inside the carousel building. The 1911 Looff Carousel is a National Historic Landmark.

The exhibit area will eventually showcase the Boardwalk's three antique organs: the recently acquired Wurlitzer 165, a smaller Wurlitzer 146, and the Boardwalk's original 1894 Ruth und Sohn organ. All three are expected to be on display later this year.

The Boardwalk purchased Playland's "Laughing Sal" in 2004. Laughing Sal can be seen (and heard!) near Neptune's Kingdom at the Boardwalk. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the last of the great seaside amusement parks on the West Coast and is celebrating its Centennial this summer.

For more information, see Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or visit

Talk About This Article

What did you think? Be the first to Add Your Comments