After 48 years of picnics, carnival rides and school field trips, Sandy Lake Amusement Park has permanently closed its doors. Last Wednesday owners of the long running Carrollton amusement park announced that the property had been sold, making the park no longer available for public use effective immediately. In a statement posted to the park’s Facebook page, the owners thanked the community and people that supported the park for nearly the last half century.
Opening in 1971, Sandy Lake Amusement Park took an area originally known for being a swimming spot and turned it into a family-friendly meeting place filled with rides, mini golf, food and fond memories for generations that created a tradition in taking their children. The park witnessed many first kisses, daring adolescent stunts, and more than its share of embarrassing moments. Antonio Chantaca remembers proudly his attempts to master some of the rides.
“Got a bunch of loose candy from Kroger, got on some octopus ride that made the seats spin, go up and down and 360,” Chantaca says. “It made me sick as hell, and I start throwing up on this kid behind me. My friend’s mom worked at Abbott Laboratories and that’s where they held their company picnic, so I had another chance to conquer it. Failed hard again.”
One of the larger events Sandy Lake hosted every year was FunFest, a musical competition that brought students from multiple schools and states to compete with their school bands. The event saw annual growth, with thousands of students arriving each year to showcase their talents and meet other people their age with the same passions.
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For some, those experiences at FunFest or a weekend afternoon spent riding the Ferris wheel left an indelible impression. Jordan Smith, a Baltimore-based music director and conductor by way of Dallas, posted a heartfelt eulogy for the amusement park on Facebook.
“When I was a teacher, we took our students to perform at Sandy Lake,” Smith’s Facebook post reads. “When I was a student, we performed at Sandy Lake. When I was the young child of a teacher, I went with my dad to watch him with his kids at Sandy Lake. When my dad was a kid, folks went to Sandy Lake. It’s hard for me to imagine a Dallas without Sandy Lake. It was small, quaint, and old-fashioned. That is to say, it was perfect. I especially appreciated the incredible work of Suzy Self. Along with her husband Tom and the Rushes, Sandy Lake thrived for nearly five decades. Sandy Lake was a magical place that will be deeply missed by tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people! RIP!”
There are no announced plans as of yet for what the new owners, Southwest Wholesale Nursery, plan to do with the property. The one certainty is that the legacy of Sandy Lake Amusement Park will continue on in the memories of every first summer job, family picnic and day of laughter by the people who experienced the park firsthand.