At New Jersey amusement park, vintage ride turns 80

This article originally appeared on
USA Today

KEANSBURG, N.J. — One milestone birthday to celebrate as Keansburg Amusement Park opens in full this weekend: Its kiddie “pedal” cars turn 80.

The seven vintage cars, painted yellow and green, have been carrying children around and around since the 1930s.

“It’s one of a kind, really,” marketing director Katie Johnson said. “They used to have pedals inside and you would ride them on the street. Someone created a ride out of it.”

The ride is the oldest in the park, which was founded in 1904.

A boy rides the vintage kiddie pedal cars at the Keansburg Amusement Park. The ride turns 80 in the 2017 season.

A boy rides the vintage kiddie pedal cars at the Keansburg Amusement Park. The ride turns 80 in the 2017 season. (Photo: Keansburg (N.J.) Amusement Park)

“It’s essentially been the same for 80 years,” Johnson said. “Their bodies are steel, which these days is unheard of. At one point they had little whistles and horns.”

The cars took a beating at the hands of superstorm Sandy in 2012. Seven of the eight survived.

The eighth was “flat as a pancake,” Johnson said.

“We actually still have it,” she said. “The rest we sent to a shop in Middletown. They hand-hammered out each car and painted them.”

Keansburg Amusement Park is known for its historic features, in a place built up from marshland in a time when no one gave a second thought to draining the swamps.

The kids’ airplane ride also dates back to the 1930s. But the pedal cars stand out because of their unmistakably classic design.

“One of the wonderful things about that particular ride and other historical rides — we get a lot of grandparents and great aunts and uncles, generations of people who have been on that ride,” Johnson said. “They’ll say, ‘I rode that ride in the '40s.’ It’s wonderful when we get people who marvel at that fact and it brings back memories of them riding it.”


    "Wonderful and beautiful day, great food, great water park, and enjoyed the arcade. This was a birthday celebration for my daughter and her father.We love Keansburg."

    April Dockery

    "If your in jersey, one of the nostalgic favorites you have to visit is keansburg! Simple classic family fun, rides, food, arcade and the beach that won't break the bank."


    "Good place for kids, teens, and all. They have plenty of rides for young kids as well as adults. Plenty of places to grab a snack and drinks. Plenty of parking available nearby. Good place to spend a few hours with the kids/ friends/ family.""

    Mital Shah

    "Got the weekday pass. It was worth it. My son had a ball. A full day of fun for one price. Water park and amusement park."

    Avery Sims