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For decades, the Joyland amusement park was a Wichita staple, bringing smiles to children and adults at its home in the 2800 block of South Hillside.
But in 2004, the park closed amid financial concerns and needed remodeling. The Whacky Shack, Louie the Clown and the Skycoaster were among the attractions shut down.
One local group is continuing its quest to breathe fresh air into the park. Kira Johnson, president of Restore Hope, said security and maintenance were among the struggles near the end of Joyland's run.
"The last new ride installed at Joyland was in 1996, and it was the Skycoaster," Johnson said. "It was never new. It was never changing."
The push to support the Joyland Restoration Project has been strong. Johnson said several people have offered to donate time, and said Wichita City Council member James Clendenin backs the project "100 percent."
Improvements cannot be made until funding can be found to purchase the property. Johnson said Margaret Nelson, the current owner, wants $1 million.
Some of the organization's own funding recently came under question because of expenses attributed to it from former board president Alex East.
"It was unclear whether they were something from Restore Hope or something from Alex East. Alex voluntarily stepped in and corrected everything," Johnson said.
East resigned soon after. Checks from the project's account now need two signers.
Restore Hope is forging ahead with several plans. Johnson wants to start an advisory board. In March, a Wichita Thunder game will bring in proceeds from parts of ticket sales. Later in the month, an Easter carnival is planned for Century II.
If it can acquire the property, the organization intends to replace fencing and add security cameras.
"Lots of people complain that there is nothing to do in Wichita," Johnson said. "There would be lots to do in Wichita if we had an amusement park."
Johnson discussed the future of the Joyland Restoration Project on KFDI's "At Issue" program. A copy of the podcast can be found here.