When rumors surfaced last week that the beloved Hoffman’s Playland on Route 9 in Latham may be sold, the Internet and airwaves exploded with concern and shock.
The family-owned and operated park, which was built in 1952, has been a cherished attraction in the Capital Region for generations.
Glen Kewley, one of the managers at Hoffman’s Playland, said as of now there are no definite plans to sell the property. But if Warren Buffett walked in tomorrow looking to buy it, who knows.
“There is really no set plan in place — that I am aware of,” he said. “There is no discussion [that] this is definitely the last season.”
Even though plans are not definite, concern grows that future memories at Hoffman’s Playland may be sold along with the park.
Michael Clute, the creator of the “Save Hoffman’s Playland” Facebook page, has witnessed this concern first-hand. In less than a week, more than 16,000 people have liked his page on Facebook. Clute said he had no idea the page would gain such popularity, but he did know how much people love the Playland.
“It has become such a part of everybody,” he said. “It is a very important thing to save.”
Clute said he started the Facebook page to make sure people were aware that Hoffman’s could be sold, but also so people could share their personal Hoffman’s Playland memories, stories and photos.
Some of the photos posted on the page date back to the 1950s, Clute said. He was personally touched by many of the stories shared, and one in particular. A woman posted on the Facebook page that she used to go to the Playland with her father when she was young and made amazing memories with him there. When her father died, she put a booklet of Hoffman’s Playland tickets in his pocket.
“When you look at what it means to the community — you can’t put a price on that,” Clute said.
‘It hits home’
Richie Phillips, one of the morning radio hosts from Country Music 107.7 WGNA, read about the possibility of the Playland being sold in The Business Review. After a little Internet research, he came across Clute’s Facebook page.
“I think it hits home for a lot of people — people of all ages,” Phillips said. “I think it does upset a lot of people to see it possibly close.”
Phillips decided to bring the Playland story to his morning show by writing a song about saving it. The song gained a lot of popularity and has been shared on Facebook, Twitter and played online dozens of times since its debut on the radio.
“I think it is a great family place for all ages, a safe place,” Phillips said. “It is kind of like our local Disney World.”
Kewley said everyone at Hoffman’s has been really touched by the outpouring of support.
“It was really humbling,” he said. “You know it matters to people, because there are families here all the time.”
Many parkgoers wonder if the economic downturn has something to do with the possible sale of the property.
Kewley said the owners, Ruth and David Hoffman, are just considering retirement.
“When it is nice out, we have people here; it is a lot of fun,” Kewley said.
One thing is for sure, Hoffman’s Playland is loved by both the young and the young at heart.
Jacob Ormerod, 7, celebrated his last day of first grade at Hoffman’s on Thursday.
“I’ve been going on rides,” he said.
Both Jacob, his grandparents and his sister Morgan, 9, said they were sad to hear the park might be closed or sold.
“Very sad,” Karen Ormerod, Jacob’s grandmother, said.
“Sad,” Jacob and Morgan Ormerod chimed in at the same time.
Many people have echoed how the Ormerod’s feel.
“I have a lot of memories at this place,” said Sean Boyle, 34. “I remember riding all these rides when I was a kid.”
James Snyder, also 34, brought his whole family to Hoffman’s on Thursday. He recalled coming as a child. His favorite memories were of a petting zoo they used to have on the property.
“My parents brought me when I was little,” he said. “The kids love it.”
But it was Jacob Ormerod who was best able to sum up his love for Hoffman’s Playland.
With a big grin across his face and ice cream cone in hand, he said, “It’s fun here.”