Valley Voices

Nanci Nishkian: Thanks to all who helped bring back Storyland

Asher Cawdery, 3, of Sanger enjoys the train ride through the tunnel with brother Noah, 1, and mom Nadine Cawdery, at the Sept. 4 grand reopening of Storyland.
Asher Cawdery, 3, of Sanger enjoys the train ride through the tunnel with brother Noah, 1, and mom Nadine Cawdery, at the Sept. 4 grand reopening of Storyland. sflores@fresnobee.com

Thank you, Scott Miller and Bruce Batti, for all of your efforts as leaders of the Storyland/Playland board of directors. The reopening of Storyland on Sept. 4 was something to celebrate. And the after-event party that evening was very fun.

Storyland looked great!

There were freshly painted storybook characters, newly landscaped grounds, a full stream of water running through the park, and a fabulous new Tea Room party venue. Music and laughter filled the air.

Adults cheerfully reminisced about their time as children, playing on the slides, skipping along the paths, celebrating birthdays and fighting with siblings over whose turn it was to hold the Magic Key and turn on the voice box. Others hunted for the donated bricks of their children, family and friends, while enjoying the tasty samplings from the participating food vendors.

It was a perfect Fresno evening, topped off for many, with a train ride around Lake Washington on the Kyle Express. It was wonderful seeing the reflection of the train light and hearing the familiar whistle as it rolled along its tracks. Thank you, Kyle family. Everyone loves the train!

Now would also be a good time to thank the Daniel R. Martin Family Foundation for its generous donation of $200,000, and the hundreds of volunteer hours and donations made by many in the community, as part of the fundraising campaign to sustain our beloved Storyland.

The current Chaffee Zoo board members need to be recognized for making the critical decision to assume the operational responsibility of both Storyland and Playland. And, most importantly, we need to thank the Rotary Clubs of Fresno for the creation and maintenance of these Fresno attractions for the past 55 years.

To the Rotarians who diligently served to provide a place for the children of Fresno, we thank you. And specifically to the recent outgoing Storyland/Playland board members, we need to especially thank you for not only reaching deep into your own pockets to see that monthly operational expenses were met but for also recognizing the dire situation and being courageous enough to take action and ask for help. Clearly, the time was right for the Chaffee Zoo board and the new Storyland/Playland board to step in and prepare for another 50-plus years.

We look forward to Playland reopening in 2016 with great anticipation. I hope everyone will take their family to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Storyland and Playland to enjoy and appreciate the generous efforts of our friends and neighbors.

Nanci Nishkian resides in Fresno.

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