Author Alan Brennert Releases newest novel: "Palisades Park"
by Vince Gargiulo
A new novel, PALISADES PARK
, by the award-winning writer, Alan Brennert, is scheduled to hit book stores on April 9, 2013. This is one book you will want to add to your library. PALISADES PARK
is not only a gripping tale of a New Jersey family, but a fabulous tribute to the famous Palisades Amusement Park.
This book is wonderfully written. Each character becomes an endearing part of the overall storyline, with many of the them being well-researched real life people who were part of the Palisades family. Although it is a fictional work, Mr. Brennert has taken Herculean efforts to ensure its accuracy. Every detail about the times and places mentioned in the book are historically accurate.Click Here to Buy "Palisades Park"
The book begins in 1922 with a family outing to the New Jersey fun center. It weaves its way through time, with Brennert brilliantly mixing world events (The Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Civil Rights movement) into the storylines of both the characters and the New Jersey amusement park. The story spans five decades, ending in 1974.
The plot revolves around the Stopka family: Eddie and Adele and their children Toni and Jack. The characters in this book are skillfully blended together with actual park employees; Bunty Hill, Arthur Holden, Anna Cooke, Jack and Irving Rosenthal, John Rinaldi and more. They will all capture your heart, especially Toni (given name Antoinette, much to her dismay). While working at her parents' french fry stand at Palisades, Toni is drawn to the lure of the salt water swimming pool directly across the midway from the family concession. She learns the ins and outs of swimming, diving, and eventually high diving from a platform 105 feet in the air.
As Executive Director of the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society, I was pleased to have been asked by Mr. Brennert for assistance in the research of Palisades Amusement Park. While I like to think I know all there is about the history of the park, there are always new things I discover from time to time. On those occasions that he would ask me a question about the park that had me stumped, Alan would call me back a week or two later with the answer. He is tenacious when it comes to staying true to history. I've never known an author who put more research into the writing of a novel than Alan Brennert. His detailed use of Palisades as the backdrop for this book will definitely bring back many fond memories for the baby boomers who grew up in the New York / New Jersey area.
When I turned the final page of the book, I was sad that it had ended... in my opinion, the mark of a great book! PALISADES PARK is a must read
or anyone who enjoys an engrossing novel, for everyone who ever visited the legendary Palisades Amusement Park, and for anyone who treasures their memories of happier days gone by.
###FROM THE PUBLISHER:
PALISADES PARK SUMMARY:
Bestseller Alan Brennert’s spellbinding story about a family of dreamers and their lives within the legendary Palisades Amusement Park.
Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother’s insistence that girls can’t be high divers.
But a family of dreamers doesn’t always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There’s the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.
Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i and Honolulu into reading group favorites, Palisades Park takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn’t.
ALAN BRENNERT/ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alan Brennert grew up in Edgewater, New Jersey, at the foot of the Palisades. He won an Emmy Award in 1991 for his work as a writer-producer on L.A. Law, and was nominated for two other Emmy Awards as well as a Golden Globe. He won a Nebula Award for his story “Ma Qui.” The author of the national bestsellers Moloka’i, a “Bookies” award-winner for Book Club Book of the Year, and Honolulu, winner of Elle’s Lettres 2009 Grand Prix for Fiction, he lives in Sherman Oaks, California.
Posted on 27 March 2013 | 1:49 pm
The 100th Anniversary of the Salt Water Pool
Palisades Amusement Park
always boasted of having the world's largest outdoor salt water pool. But did you know that pool first opened to the public in 1913?
Soon after the park was purchased by Nick and Joseph Schenck, the brothers decided they needed something to compete with their nearest competition, Coney Island. Well Coney had rides... Palisades had rides. Coney had games... Palisades had games. Coney had colorful midways... Palisades had colorful midways. But Coney Island had one thing that Palisades Amusement Park lacked... AN OCEAN!
So the Schenck brother decided that since they could not move Palisades Amusement park down the Jersey shore, they would do the next best thing. They would move the Jersey shore to Palisades. In the winter of 1912, they began to construct what would become the world's largest outdoor salt water pool. It was as wide as a city block and three times as long. The one and a half million gallons of saltwater needed for the pool were siphoned from the Hudson River at high tide by enormous pumps. Before entering the pool, the water flowed through six large filters to clear it of any contaminants.
On June 8th, 1913 the large pool officially opened billed to accommodate ten thousand swimmers, the pool was constructed entirely of concrete. Its depth ranged from a few inches to fourteen feet; at the deepest end, diving boards built from hickory timbers lined the sides. Bathhouses were divided equally among the sexes and provided accommodations for more than two thousand bathers. The park even offered free swimming instructions to all patrons.
The pool became the number one hangout for patrons seeking a refreshing dip in the crystal clear waters of the pool. It remained the most popular attraction at the Park right up to the time it closed in 1971.
This year, we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Palisades pool. And to capture those memories, the Fort Lee Museum will be presenting an exhibit focused on the pool. This will be in conjunction with the release of a new novel, by the Emmy-Award-winning writer, Alan Brennert. The book Palisades Park
is a spellbinding story about a family of dreamers and their lives within the legendary Palisades Amusement Park. The publisher describes the story as:
Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.
But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.
Reading this book is a wonderful experience. And Mr. Brennert will be at the Fort Lee Museum at 7:00PM on April 7, 2013 to kick off his book signing tour of Palisades Park
. The Museum will also be hosting several other Palisades Amusement Park events throughout the year. I will keep you posted.
Posted on 11 February 2013 | 2:37 pm
Our Last Summer In The Sun
The Fort Lee Historical Society presents the Palisades Amusement Park Exhibit, "Our Last Summer in the Sun - 40th Anniversary of Closing of Our Park"
by Tom Meyers
"Our last summer in the sun" is a phrase we associate with many things, but here in Fort Lee, for those of the baby boom generation, we link it to September 12, 1971, the date when the gates of Palisades Amusement Park closed, never to open again except in our collective memory.
How do you celebrate a sad event like this--one that cut us off from our past of summertime swims in the world’s largest outdoor saltwater pool, from free rock and roll shows hosted by Cousin Brucie on the stage of the park atop the cliffs, of Little Miss America pageants, of the Cyclone rollercoaster and so many memorable rides, concessions and, lest we forget, the famous Palisades Amusement Park french fries?
Well, members of the Fort Lee Historical Society decided to celebrate the occasion like the proverbial Irish Wake – with stories, smiles, laughter and remembrances of a time not so very long ago in terms of our history. Such an occasion allows us also to increase our living history program as we hope to interview those left in the area who have memories of the park, who worked there and who in reality were as much of the park as was the Ferris wheel or the Circus Restaurant.
We will videotape numerous such individuals in our museum with this exhibit as a backdrop. This will allow future generations to get in touch with this period of time and be aware of the force of nature that was Palisades Amusement Park in Fort Lee and Cliffside Park from 1898 to 1971.
One such person we plan on interviewing is Sol Abrams, who was in charge of all the park’s publicity during the years Irving Rosenthal ran the park and that include the park’s heyday of the 1960s. Sol will go down in public relations history for his scheme to have an elephant placed on large water skis on the Hudson River to promote the park – this event is preserved on newsreel footage that can be seen at the Fort Lee Museum
during this exhibit.
The Fort Lee Historical Society also thanks Palisades Amusement Park historian Vince Gargiulo for use of his documentary, Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories
. We will have Vince on hand to introduce the film during a formal screening at the Fort Lee Historic Park Theatre in October.
Vince has also lent the exhibit some very special artifacts from his personal collection, and they make this exhibit a must see for any fan of Palisades Amusement Park. The exhibit includes rare artifacts and photos from the Fort Lee Historical Society archive.Museum hours are Sat. and Sun., 12 to 4 p.m., Wed., 7 to 9 p.m. and by appointment for groups. For more information about the exhibit, which runs through January 2012, and a complete list of special events, visit the Fort Lee Historical Society online or call 201-592-3580.
Posted on 12 August 2011 | 2:13 pm
40 Years Later... and the Memories Still Live On!
“Palisades has the rides, Palisades has the fun…” Ask any New Jersey Baby Boomer to sing the next line from this classic 1960s jingle and they will quickly chant “Come on over.”
Throughout the 1960s, that tune filled the airwaves of radio and television stations throughout the tri-state area. But the memories of the legendary Palisades Amusement Park
are still as vivid today in the minds of the over-50 crowd as they were back in the park’s heyday.
In 1898, a New Jersey picnic grove became the catalyst for one of the greatest amusement parks of the 20th century. What would later be known as Palisades Amusement Park
, started out as an attraction for the local trolley company, designed to increase weekend ridership. The park stood proudly on the Palisades cliffs, in the towns of Cliffside Park, Fort Lee and Edgewater. Thousands flocked to the park daily to partake in the games, the food, the shows and the rides. It grew to be one of the world's most famous fun centers, achieving national prominence through the Freddy Cannon song, Palisades Park
2011 marks the 40-year anniversary since the closing of Bergen County's most famous landmark. To mark the occasion, author and producer Vince Gargiulo will be presenting an informative lecture about the famed amusement park in libraries in and around Bergen County.
The lecture is a comprehensive history of the Park beginning with its inception in the late 1800s, continuing through its rather checkered history, until its ultimate demise in the early 70s. For those who ever visited Palisades Amusement Park, this lecture is sure to bring back those cherished remembrances. And for those never lucky enough to have entered its colorful gates, the Palisades Amusement Park lecture will recreate the thrills, laughter and joy that was Palisades. The park historian, Vince Gargiulo, hosts the multimedia lecture, which features images, videos and sounds of Palisades.
Since 1995, Vince Gargiulo has been traveling around the state, speaking about this classic fun center. Vince is the author of the book Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories
, and Producer of the PBS documentary of the same name. His most recent work includes the Arcadia book, Palisades Amusement Park: Postcard History Series
. Books and DVDs will be available at the events.
For an up-to-date listing of lecture appearances, check out www.PalisadesPark.com
Posted on 15 January 2011 | 1:30 pm
After nearly 40 years, an original Palisades Amusement Park billboard has returned home.
It started when I received an email back on March 12 from Janet Strom at the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs. She wrote to tell me that a man had dropped off an original Palisades 14-part billboard and another Palisades subway poster that he wanted to have a good, safe home. Janet called me since she was aware of the PAP Historical Society and felt I could supply the "good home" for the artwork.
I called the generous donor, who turned out to be Richard Patterson from South Jersey. He told me how he had acquired it after the park's closing. At that time, Rich, a member of the class of 1969, was a resident of the town of Palisades Park. He and a friend had been walking the grounds of the former amusement park the year after it closed. There they found an open building that housed an assortment of advertising posters and materials that the park had used annually to promote the fun center. He grabbed a poster and a billboard and kept it in storage all these years.
Richard, a retired US postal worker, now decided the time had come that he find a good home for the posters. He contacted the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs since these pieces certainly fit the definition of "historic." That was when Janet had the idea to contact me about housing the collection.
Thank you, Richard. Your generosity will forever be appreciated by myself and by the countless fans of Palisades Amusement Park.
Posted on 10 May 2010 | 8:01 am
New Palisades Music Video on YouTube
The new Palisades music video
debuted this week on YouTube with much praise from the Facebook fans who first saw it. The tune was written by Marian Mastrorilli and was performed by Project Mercury.
Marian shared her Palisades musical testimonial with me many years ago. It has always been available in the "Sounds" section of PalisadesPark.com.
But as I was re-designing the website a few weeks ago, I listened to her song again and I began to muse how wonderful it would be if her song could be combined with some of the images of Palisades I have collected over the years. I asked Marian for her permission to take on this project and she happily agreed. So after the new website was relaunched I sat down to create the video. I listened to each lyric and matched them to the photographs in my collection. After several days, the video was completed. Shortly after it was uploaded, the comments from the Facebook community began to come in.
"Very nice... Brings a tear to my eye"
"Wonderful, thanks for bringing back the memories!!"
"Outstanding, what a trip back in time."
"OMG!!! That was incredible! the things I thought I forgot but remembered so well with the song..fantastic memories."
"Looking at this video is like watching my childhood being torn down. VERY touching."
"What a trip down memory lane.. nice tribute."
So, the work that it took to create the video was well worth it. Palisades was such a special, magical place to so many people. It's great that we can all share our common experiences and fond memories of our childhood wonderland. Check it out!In other Palisades news...The New Web Site:
Of course you have probably noticed the new design to the web site. Palisades Amusement Park has had a home on the internet since 1994, when it was originally hosted on America Online. Since then, PalisadesPark.com
has become extremely popular for baby boomers, amusement park lovers, and anyone who remembers this classic American fun center. I will be adding more to the site in the weeks to come and I encourage anyone with any thoughts or comments to please write me.
Internet Radio Show: On Monday, April 26 at 9:00PM, Palisades Amusement Park will be featured on the Internet Radio show RadioOnceMore.com with hosts Neal Ellis and Ken Stockinger. Tune in to radiooncemore.com to hear yours truly, the PalisadesPark.com webmaster, Vince Gargiulo discuss our favorite amusement park. This is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. DON'T MISS IT!That's about it for the time being. I'll post more news when it becomes available. Enjoy the memories!
Posted on 17 April 2010 | 11:08 am
The new Palisades Web Site
PalisadesPark.com has been online since 1994. Since then I have tried to always keep the site fresh and fun. At long last, I have given the site a complete makeover. This new site has been redesigned from the bottom up. It sports an all-new color scheme and should be more compatible with a wide variety of browsers. I have added some new features that I hope you will enjoy.
- I have completely revamped the "Sounds" section, adding an automatic player for each song along with the lyrics to every Palisades tune. I think you will enjoy the all new "Sounds" pages.
- Some rare clips of Palisades from the 1930s showed up on YouTube so I have added them to the "Video Gallery".
- All of the articles that were previously located in the "News" section can now be found in the "Archives" section.
- I have reworked the "Photo Gallery" from the ground up. I added lots of new photos. The Photo Gallery now uses Flash animation to create some nice effects while you are browsing through the photos.
- And of course, you have already found my new "Blog" page that I will use to keep you posted on the latest info about Palisades Amusement Park and this web site.
And coming soon, I hope to be adding a Hall of Fame section, dedicated to the employees of Palisades that made the amusement park such a special place.
I will be doing some tweeking of the site in the days to come. If you see anything that looks a little weird, please write me at email@example.com
and I'll try to address the issue as soon as I can.
Thanks to everyone who has visited this site over the years and for the very kind words so many of you have expressed. I enjoy keeping the memories alive and I will continue to do so in the years to come. Sometimes I don't have a chance to answer my email in a timely manner, but I want you all to know that I read every email and I always appreciate the feedback.
Posted on 5 April 2010 | 8:59 am