A Summer Day at Chesapeake Beach Park c. 1960s, From the Collection of Mildred & Harold Finlon, created by Diane Donovan Harrison.
Amusement Park: 1946-1972
The former Seaside Park was leased in 1945 for one year by Herman B. “Jim” Anglemyer of Long Beach, California. He renamed it Chesapeake Beach Amusement Park & Fishing Wharves and made some improvements and repairs. The grand opening of the Rod ‘N Reel restaurant was in May 1945. In 1946, the park was purchased by Wesley Stinnett, Joseph O’Mara, and the Cate Brothers of Baltimore. Chesapeake Beach Park, Inc. was created with Stinnett as President. A large fishing fleet was built up for group outings and existing facilities were renovated. A new era of family fun at Chesapeake Beach began.
The saltwater pool, which was now improved with a fountain, music, and lighting for night swimming, was a big attraction. Overlooking the pool, the ballroom continued the tradition of big bands and dancing. Here the resort hosted the Annual Bay Breeze Ball and other social events. There was a large, shady picnic area with a picturesque view of the bay that was the perfect place for many annual group events, and for families to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Favorite attractions were the carousel, a Ferris wheel, the Fun House, the Tubs of Fun, and several kiddie rides, including a train. Entertainers strolled throughout the park. Visitors might see a clown, a blue-eyed Indian, Davy Crockett, or a German Oom-Pah band. Every Fourth of July, “the Spirit of ’76” – a costumed fife and drum corps, complete with a bandaged head – marched around the park. While kids roamed freely, adults could spend time in the former casino transformed into a Penny Arcade, where there was a bingo hall, slot machines (1948-1968), snack bar, and picnic porch.
In the 1950s, crowds over 4,000 were common on hot weekends. However, the accessibility of ocean resorts after the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the outlawing of slot machines, and competition from newly built large theme parks, all contributed to the demise of the park in 1972.