Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"We've Got Your Summer at Rocky Point"


Missing Rocky Point Park? Let WSBE Rhode Island PBS help cure some of those nostalgic summer blues this July with local filmmaker David Bettencourt’s award winning documentary You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park.

The feature-length  film, airing Saturday, July 3rd at 7:00 P.M. and again on Sunday, July 4 at 11 P.M., looks at Rocky Point’s 150-year history, from its prominent place in New England summers to the ghost town it has now become.

Every summer for decades, generations of New Englanders flocked to Rocky Point Park - the amusement park and shore dinner hall once situated on Warwick Neck, along the coast of the Narragansett Bay - for a game of Sunday baseball, for a picnic, for a rock-n-roll concert, or to ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl.
Then, in 1996, the park closed. With its rides sold off, the park sat for years as a ghost town, scheduled for demolition and primed for the construction of condominiums.

You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park is told entirely by the people who lived there, who worked there, and who spent every summer at the park. The film uses archival footage, family photos, and memorabilia from the park, as well as photographs taken for this film of the inside of ruined buildings and the grounds of the former amusement park.

From the Shore Dinner Hall to the Midway, from blizzards to iconic rides, no aspect of the Rocky Point Park experience is overlooked. You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride all its own.


--- In 1847, Captain William Winslow and his passengers aboard the Argo landed at the area known as Rocky Point to enjoy a Sunday picnic.

--- The 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, visited Rocky Point Park and became the first president to make a telephone call. He talked briefly on this new invention with Alexander Graham Bell, who was 13 miles away in Providence.

--- George Herman “Babe” Ruth played numerous baseball games at Rocky Point while playing for the Providence Grays.

--- The park was completely destroyed by the Great Hurricane of 1938. It took years to re-build.

--- The park was again destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954. Owner Vincent Ferla spent over $100,000 to re-build it. At its re-opening, traffic is so bad that it holds up major roads in Warwick and Cranston.

--- Rocky Point had six major roller coasters in its history:
  1. The Flying Turns
  2. The Wildcat
  3. The Cyclone
  4. The Comet Junior
  5. The Up ‘n’ Atom
  6. The Corkscrew
-- The Cyclone, sold off at a ride auction in 1996, is currently running at Sandspit-Cavendish, an amusement park on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

-- The Corkscrew was bought, moved and re-named “The Wild Thing.” It currently runs at a theme park outside of Seattle in Federal Way, Washington.