Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Deer Haven Kiddie Park, Fox Lake, Illinois (1960-1967)

Deer Haven Kiddie Park was located on Route 59 one mile north of Routes 12 & 59 junction. Al Kean and Edward Reich were the owners of this 19.3-acre park.
It was a very small amusement park with a miniature train, pony rides, picnic facilities, a restaurant, refreshment stands and deer so tame that young children could feed them by hand.
White Tailed Deer
Their tag-line was "Go on a See-nik Pic-nik." They boasted about their Fairy-Tail Forest, where children could see deer, monkeys, birds, buffalo, lambs, goats and lots of bunnies.

A July 10, 1962 Chicago Tribune article states:
"Chief Thundercloud (whose less ornate name is Scott T. Williams), who is even now holding authentic Indian dances on the grounds of Deer Haven at Fox Lake, Ill., is a four greats grandson of Chief Pontiac. When Chief Thundercloud decided to devote his life to Indian lore, he was confronted with a terrific hurdle, as he had made the mistake of getting an engineering degree from a Boston college. While there, he picked up quite an accent, and had to work hard to shed it, as people were a little dubious about taking Indian lore from a redskin with a Boston accent."

The Chicago Tribune writes about the tragedy which happened on August 20, 1964, at Deer Haven Park:
"About 11 am, Scottie, a 30 pound baboon, worked the door open on his cage and hopped atop the park restaurant building. Kean called the Fox Lake and Round Lake police for help. Five men, including Fox Lake Police Chief Kenneth Minahan, responded. At about 11:20 am, Minahan shot Scottie with a dart from a tranquilizer gun. "The animal had been calm until then," Kena said. "Then he became excited." Scottie headed for the trees, with Kean, Reich, and the police in pursuit. He finally climbed 60 feet in a tall oak, swinging from branch to branch. The men tried in vain to lure him down with grapes and bananas. Minahan hit him five times more with tranquilizer darts. Once, Scottie seemed to totter. Otherwise, there was no effect. Finally at 3:45 pm, fearful for the safety of customers and neighbors, Minahan sighted a loaded shotgun thru the branches and leaves high above him. It took three blasts to bring Scottie down, dead. Kean, sadly, said he was a beauty - as baboons go."
In March of 1967, the park was sold to the Village of Fox Lake to form the new Fox Lake Park District with plans to build the community's first major public park. The park woud serve as a memorial to men who have died in the armed services. Plans include a baseball field, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

1 comment:

  1. I remember going to Deer Haven as a kid and feeding deer by hand, probably around 1959.


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