seneca park rides gone
Elephant area to replace zoo rides By CHRIS SCHARF OAC StaH Writer Kiddyland rides, a 28-year-old tradition at the Seneca Park Zoo, will be pushed aside by elephants this spring. Monroe County officials have refused to renew an agreement expiring this month that permits Pat and Robert Mastowski to operate the rides. Monroe County Parks and Recreation Director Calvin Reynolds said the area is needed for the zoo's two African elephants. But he said the rides weren't appropriate for a zoo anyway: "They gave the zoo a honky-tonk look which isn't in keeping with our goal there. We just didn't think they were in keeping with the educational purpose of a zoo park, and we needed the room for expansion." The rides have been closed for the winter, but Mastowski said he'll open Easter, weather permitting, for one more day before closing for good and selling the equipment. In 1977 Mrs. Mastowski took over Kiddyland miniature boat, pony, tank and airplane rides from Betty Buckler, who ran the amusements for 25 years. Some parents brought children to the zoo just for the rides because they were inexpensive, zoo director Dan Michalowski said. Last year the price of a ride was 30 cents, Mastowski said. That was up from the 20 cents that began a couple of years ago when the price of the rides doubled from a dime. But Michalowski said other parents objected to the rides as a distraction: "Some people complained they were war rides and that war rides have no justification in this time and era. Others complained that they brought their kids to see the animals, but the first thing the kids would run to is the rides." The Mastowskis were hoping to negotiate a long-term lease this year and replace the tank ride with a merry-go-round. But in December the county told them it didn't plan to renew the agreement. "We've talked to the county over the past month. But they just told us the rides don't blend in with the zoo, and the noise is wrong and the colors are wrong," Mastowski said. Mrs. Buckler, who managed the rides from 1952 to 1977, said she still has 300 thank-you notes sent by school children and teachers who came to the zoo during those years. "I'm sorry to hear it's closing because I feel it did bring people in," she said yesterday. "Not a child was ever hurt, and everybody was happy but it all depends on how you operate it." The zoo acquired its two elephants, Lilac and Genny C, last year. And the Seneca Zoological Society is trying to raise $250,000 for an elephant exhibit area that would provide a more natural setting for them.