(Aug. 10, 2018) Trimper’s Rides will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and park-wide party on Friday, Aug. 17.
Public officials and dignitaries such as Gov. Larry Hogan will make an appearance during the ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the carousel in the indoor amusement building on the Boardwalk near the inlet, next Friday at noon.
“We’re looking forward to the governor taking time out of his schedule to come,” Trimper’s Operations Manager Brooks Trimper, 38, said. “He honored us a few years ago when we were announced the oldest family-owned amusement park in the country and we’re pretty blessed he’s able to come again and honor us for our 125th anniversary.”
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the entire park will be opened to the public at 1 p.m., where surprise giveaways will take place throughout the day.
“There will be random things throughout the day for random guests,” Trimper said. “It won’t be the third person in line, it will be random guests presented with prizes and coupons. We want to make it special for people who come on [that] day to have a different experience than they do every other day.”
Wristbands to enjoy the 36 rides and 18 games and attractions available at the park will be discounted to $18, compared to the original $26. Special merchandise commemorating the 125th anniversary will be available for purchase.
Trimper has been working at his family’s amusement park since he was 12 years old.
“I am just one of the family members that run our park,” Trimper said. “There are many of us here from the fourth and fifth generation that are closely involved in keeping this park running.
“Everyone always says, ‘Oh, you work at the amusement park, you live by the beach’, [but] it’s not like I’m on vacation every day,” he continued. “It’s still a job. I’m with my family every minute of every day, but it’s still a job, and just like any other business world there are disputes, but it’s family so it’s easier to get through it.”
Of the 4,000-plus amusement parks that have existed in the U.S., Trimper’s is one of only 13 to have reached the 125-year milestone. Only 10 of those are still in existence.
Trimper’s is the oldest family-run amusement park in the country, and the second oldest in the world, according to National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) historian Jim Futrell. The oldest family-run amusement park in the world is Blackgang Chine, located in England, which opened in 1842.
“We’re actually hoping [Futrell] can come, because he’s the one that brought it to our attention years ago,” Trimper said. “He’s written many books around the East Coast, and all around the country, he’s pretty much the go-to man about park history.”
Trimper’s beginnings date back to 1891, when Daniel and Margaret Trimper migrated from Baltimore and purchased two of the first three hotels in Ocean City – the Eastern Shore and the Sea Bright. Now, the amusement park takes up two-and-half city blocks.
“I hope that there’s going to be [more] to our family tradition involved for another 100 years,” Trimper said. “I think it will have to evolve with time and change. We’ll have to modernize and change with the times. If you’re not changing you’re dying in business, so we want to modernize but still keep some ties to our traditions and our history.
“In my lifetime it’s certainly grown because the Tidal Wave was the largest addition, and then Marty’s Playland was purchased when I was very young,” he continued. “The [major] change in the industry is everything used to be mechanical and now everything is electronic.”
In 1912, the Trimpers purchased the massive carousel, which still operates today inside the 700 South Atlantic Avenue location, from the Herschell-Spillman Company in New York. The hand-carved 104-year-old carousel is 50 feet in diameter and was initially run by a steam engine, which powered the first blocks of the city before electricity was universally utilized. Rides initially cost a nickel.
“It’s definitely great to see how happy people are and the memories they’re making and repeating,” Trimper said. “I have people tell me all the time, ‘Well this was my favorite ride as a kid and now my daughter’s riding that ride, or my granddaughter’s riding that ride.’ It’s great to hear those stories and to know we’re part of their family tradition and they’re making memories with their children that they did with their parents [too].”
The amusement park’s indoor entertainment on 700 South Atlantic Avenue is open from 1-11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12-11 p.m. Saturday through Sunday. The outdoor park between South First and Worcester street is open every day from 3-11 p.m.
For more information about Trimper’s, visit https://trimpersrides.com.
Looking back on 125 years at Trimper’s:
1891 – Daniel and Margaret Trimper establish two hotels: the Eastern Shore and the Sea Bright between South Division and South First streets
1893 – Trimper’s Rides opens for business at 700 South Atlantic Avenue
1900 – The Trimpers rebuilt the Eastern Shore and the Sea Bright after a severe storm destroyed the originals, renaming it Windsor Resort
1912 – The Trimpers purchase a carousel from the Herschell-Spillman Company in New York
1916 – Trimpers expand its property to South Second Street, calling it Luna Park
1917 – The Whip building is added to Luna Park
1920s – The kiddie carousel, Fairy Whip, and boat rides are incorporated into the park at 700 South Atlantic Avenue
1929 – Trimpers properties narrowly avoid destruction after a massive fire destroys surrounding businesses
1933 – A massive storm cuts through the inlet, destroying some of Trimpers’ properties including the Whip building
1953 – Granville D. Trimper extends the amusement park to the outdoors from 700 to 730 South Atlantic Avenue
1964 – Granville Trimper and Bill Tracy create the Haunted House on South First Street on the Boardwalk
Late 1960s – New rides are added every year and the amusement park purchases Melvin Amusements on South Division Street and Baltimore Avenue
1970-73 – The carousel undergoes repairs and restoration
1976 – The Himalaya ride is added to the park at South First Street
1981 – The Ghost Ship, originally from Ocean Playland Amusement Park on 65th street, is purchased by Granville Trimper and dismantled
1986 – The Tidal Wave is open to the public on 700 South Atlantic Avenue
1987 – The Haunted House closes for renovations
1989 – The Haunted House reopens to include features from the Ghost Ship, adding a second story to the site
1991 – Marty’s Playland on Worcester Street on the Boardwalk is purchased by Trimpers
2016 – Trimper’s is recognized as the oldest family-run amusement park in the country
2018 – Trimper’s Rides celebrates 125 years