• Dennis McCaslin

Destination Oklahoma: Unique Kiddie Park in Bartlesville charges .50 cents per ride

Kiddie Park's first crew in 1947

In the late 1940's after World War II, American soldiers returned home to begin a family, build their family homes and purchase automobiles.

Most families would go on weekend trips to area towns to see the sights and have a little adventure. Bill and Marjorie Beasley, owners of Curtis Sporting Goods of Bartlesville, was one such family who would take their son on trips.

On one of their trips, they heard about a neighboring town that had a park, a zoo, a small playground and train. As they were returning home from a fun day with their son Ed, he began to ask his parents why their hometown did not have a park for children.

One of the early rides at Bartlesville's "Kiddie Park".

Of course, his comments did become their topic of conversation before going to bed. They agreed before retiring for the night that they would pray about it and perhaps the Lord would send them a message.

The next day, they went to church and while they were there, they began some conversation with their church friends. They agreed their son poised a very good question. Soon the vision of creating a park for children caught on and their friends started to work raising monies through downtown bake sales and pie suppers.

Area merchants and businesses joined into donate and raise money as well.

In 1947, the CIty of Bartlesville had a spot of land located at the corner West Frank Phillips Boulevard and Santa Fe Street that they were willing to lease. The park was called the "Play Pen". Not long after the land was acquired, Mr. and Mrs. Beasley and their church families began to purchase rides for the park.

During this period, the park had five rides and ride tickets were only 5 cents. In 1953, the City notified the park that an area businessman had approached the City with a request to purchase the property to expand his company's business site. The City advised the park that it had to move, so the City offered to lease a portion of the land in Johnstone Park.

After this was approved by the City, Mr. and Mrs. Beasley saw the need for the park to incorporate and form a non-profit organization, with a Board of Directors to oversee the operations of the park known as Bartlesville Playground Association, Inc. The Board of Directors consisted of all local business people willing to volunteer their time. They saw the need to hire a staff to manage the operating of the park and decided to create a whole new name and called it the "Kiddie Park".

The Bartlesville Kiddie Park has endured to this day. But unlike a number of tourist attractions, the facility operates for the benefit of the children in the community and all over the region. in stead of being a huge profit center.

Subsidized by donations and the support of the city, the facility has seventeen different rides and they are all priced the same - just fifty-cents per ride. Click HERE to see a slideshow of the current rides.

Bartlesville Kiddie Park will open for business (Friday and Saturday only)on May 3 from 7-10 p.m. Starting on May 23, the park will open Tuesday-Thursday 7 p.m. -9:30 p.m. and 7 p.m,. tto 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Click HERE to access their website.