Despite shutting down more than 20 years ago, Ellicott City’s Enchanted Forest theme park inspires rabid nostalgia among locals, even those with nothing but distant childhood memories of the place. Seriously, I try to avoid driving past that Safeway with the king pointing his finger when I’ve got a native in the car.
A new book about the low-tech, nursery-rhyme-themed attraction, The Enchanted Forest: Memories of Maryland’s Storybook Park, is sure to fuel even more in the way of pleasant reminiscences and bitter longing.
The book, co-authored by Martha Anne Clark (whose Elioak Farm currently hosts many of the old statues and structures) and Janet Kusterer, traces the park’s history from its origins in 1955 (when creator Howard Harrison Jr. struggled to find contractors willing to build whimsical structures “that often weren’t designed to be plumb or square”) to its closure in 1989 (which produced a “collective shriek of ‘Oh, no!'”).
One point that’s hammered home is the park’s being racially integrated from the beginning, a “firm” policy that anticipated the Civil Rights Act by nine years and, according to Clark, lost Harrison patrons.
A release party and signing for the book will take place at Clark’s Elioak Farm on August 17 and 18.
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