June 13, 2014

Iconic Joyland sign removed

The iconic 1949 Joyland sign that towered over South Hillside for years was taken down Friday morning and put into storage.

The iconic 1949 Joyland sign that towered over South Hillside for years was taken down Friday morning and put into storage.

“I hope I remember where to pull into without the sign,” Joyland owner Margaret Nelson Spear said Friday, as it was being removed. “It’s so sad.”

Aside from the faded white roller coaster, little can be seen of Joyland from the street now.

Members of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County were out Friday along with a local sign company to remove the sign, which came in three pieces: the top “Joy” half, the bottom “Land” half, and the marquee and sign posts.

“I texted my husband and said, ‘The joy has officially left the land,’ ” alliance member Kandi Piatkowski said. “It came in pieces.”

The alliance will take the sign and store it in the 740,000-square-foot Garvey Public Warehouse, along with other Joyland relics the alliance has taken from the park recently.

“We want to keep this memory for Wichita,” alliance vice president Sam Nance said. “The main thing is to keep it here locally. It could have gone anywhere; we’ve had other interests outside Wichita for it.”

Though Joyland has not played host to visitors since closing in 2006, its sign has been a home to a variety of local birds. Before it was taken down, workers had to clean out old nests tucked inside the frame of the metal sign.

“A lot of birds are going to be unhappy,” Nance said. “They’ll get over it.”

The whole affair took little more than an hour, though alliance members said they have years of memories attached to the sign and to the park with which it was associated.

“They got me on the Ferris wheel one time and I got stuck at the top,” alliance member Bev Henline said. “I just loved it.”

The park has been the subject of repeated vandalism over the years, and its core buildings have been ravaged by fires. Piatkowski said at this point, she thinks it would be best to leave Joyland and start a new amusement park with the same name.

“I think the important thing is to take the name and re-create it somewhere else,” she said.

Alliance president Greg Kite said the sign will be well-preserved and hopefully displayed again some day.

“Quite frankly, it’s the marquee piece of Joyland,” Kite said. “When you saw it, you got excited, your heart began to beat and pump.

“It’s imperative that we preserve and keep this Joyland street sign.”

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