Tim's Turn - August 2018


A Musical Ode to Amusement Parks

The Beach Boys loved performing at Lagoon Park and even referenced it in their song “Salt Lake City.” Elvis loved Libertyland in Memphis and bought out the entire park several times so he and his friends could play and ride his favorite coaster, the “Zippin Pippin.”

Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon showed his love for a New York area park by recording the hit song “Palisades Park” in 1962, with the great line, “You’ll never know how great a kiss can feel when you stop at the top of a Ferris wheel.”

And most recently, Trapper Schoepp released a six-song concept album with self-penned songs about his favorite park, Bay Beach in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Who is Trapper Schoepp, you may ask? He’s a nascent 28-year-old singer/songwriter making a big mark in the music industry. The six original songs, all with a different musical style, all nod to a bygone era of music. The ode to the park is entitled “Welcome to Bay Beach.” Individual rides receiving a musical salute are the “Zippin Pippin,” the Ferris wheel, the classic Skat, the Tilt-a-Whirl, and bumper cars.

What is Bay Beach might be your next question. If you don’t live in the area, chances are you have no knowledge that it exists. But it does, and it is a popular local, city-owned institution that is celebrating its 126th operating season this summer. 

The park features 22 rides with a cross section for all members of the family to enjoy. It has free parking and free admission, and ride tickets are a quarter each, with the most expensive ride, the wooden roller coaster, requiring four tickets. In 2017, 3.5 million rides were given at the park. 

I love the fact that a young, popular singer enjoys an old, traditional amusement park enough to write and record six original songs about it. “Most definitely,” this is a lovefest for the park, Trapper tells me. “But it’s an appreciation of amusement parks everywhere and what they represent, which is escapism.” Like good music.

The songs don’t take life too seriously, and “a lot of metaphors can be found in them,” he explains. The song “Bumper Cars,” was “inspired by the major clash of ideas and personalities in the 2016 presidential election; we’ve all been on a literal or figurative Ferris wheel that won’t stop; and of course, the roller coaster is a metaphor to describe life and love.” 

He says his inspiration is specific to Bay Beach, but the subject matter is universal. The project started one day when he went to the park to ride the “Zippin Pippin,” which was moved from Memphis to Bay Beach in 2011. “I love the ride, and its backstory as Elvis’ favorite ride makes it even more interesting.”

He performed “Zippin Pippin” in front of the ride in August 2017 on the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death to honor both the “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” and the celebration of the park’s 125th anniversary. At first, park management was “a bit confused” about what he was doing, but in the end, they loved it. Who wouldn’t? The album (CD and vinyl) is on sale at the park and online, and the songs are getting played on local radio stations. It looks like the project was a win-win all the way around. 

Every park has fans, but how many are lucky enough to have a fan who honors that park with original music? It could be a new trend, thanks to fun-loving, coaster-riding Trapper Schoepp.

Tim O’Brien is a veteran outdoor entertainment journalist and is a longtime Funworld contributor. He has authored many books chronicling the industry’s attractions and personalities and is the only journalist in the IAAPA Hall of Fame.