DelGrosso's Park enjoys
its diamond anniversary
AT: Pam Sherborne
TIPTON, Pa. — DelGrosso's Park and Laguna Splash is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season with special events being presented, treasured memories being shared, and, of course, many squeals of laughter from guests riding rides and splashing in water.
And a multitude of "yums" is a given from visitors partaking in the park's famous food offerings. DelGrosso Food Company also turns 75 this year.
The DelGrosso family feels humbled about their success. They feel it is a direct result of sticking to the original mission of the venue they created. That mission has always been to provide high-quality food and family entertainment in a clean, safe and friendly environment.
“While many things have changed through our 75 years, our commitment to our mission has not,” said Carl Crider Jr., park president and general manager.
“We never want to compromise our quality," he said.
Crider said throughout the years, his family has had a plan for the steady growth of the park and they stuck with that plan.
Special events for the 75th birthday began even before the 2022 opening day. To kick off the year, management decided to offer its tier-one season pass for $75 all year long. That pass is normally priced at $79.95.
"We also held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting the day before opening,"
said Amy Mearkle, park publicist. "We had a number of local officials that wanted to give citations."
During the opening weekend, May 21 and 22, guests enjoyed 75 minutes of free rides each day from noon to 1:15 p.m. Then, the park offered a special deal of buy one all-day Fun Pass and get one for only $10 from 1:15 p.m. until close.
The July 4 Summer Thunder fireworks show has been themed to DelGrosso's diamond jubilee. Named Diamonds in the Sky, the 4th preshow will start at 9:30 p.m. and the fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. All rides, attractions and food stands will be closed during the fireworks show. A select number will reopen after the show.
DelGrosso's traditionally plans special events for its guests all summer long, some are annual events and some first-timers. A sampling of some of those include: the Dog Days of Summer promotion benefitting local humane shelters held in August this year; 22nd Annual Frontline Youthfest Last Blast of Summer in September; the 32nd Annual Italian Food & Heritage Festival, also in September and the DelGrosso's Annual Harvestfest Season Finale set for Sept. 24-25.
Park management is expecting a good year this season just like many years before this one. Generations of families from across Pennsylvania have special memories of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.
Since its beginnings around the turn of the century, even before it was purchased by the DelGrosso family, it had been a source of family entertainment.
The land was originally owned by the Bland family. That family was the first to have entertainment on the property when they would let the Rinard brothers bring their carnival to the farm in the early 1900s.
In 1919, Fred Bland decided to create Bland's Park. It kept this name until 2000. When it first opened, it consisted of a small dance floor and a picnic grove.
In 1946 Ferdinand (Fred) DelGrosso and his wife, Mafalda (Murf) Pulcina DelGrosso purchased Bland's Park. They felt they could give it new life and, at the same time, they wanted to expand a business they had opened called DelGrosso Cafe, where they had been serving Murf DelGrosso's family pasta sauce recipe. It had quickly outgrown its small building.
The family recipe was brought over from Italy by Murf DelGrosso's mother, Marianne Pulcina, when she immigrated to America in 1911.
Almost immediately after the DelGrossos purchased Bland's Park, improvements began. It had grown some since Bland opened it, but its offerings were limited.
“When they first bought the park, it had a skating rink, a bowling alley, a picnic area, and a few rides,” Mearkle said.
Under Fred DelGrosso’s guidance, the amusement park grew to include adult and kiddie rides, new concession stands and new restrooms.
While the park grew so did the DelGrosso Food Company, which was utilizing a production building on site.
The DelGrosso family also was growing. They had seven sons and daughters. All of them and their spouses took part in the park's operation.
Even though there were annual additions and improvements made over the years, there were periods when the park experienced a great growth. In the 1980s, a multimillion-dollar improvement plan was put into place. New rides were added and an elaborate concession stand and gift shop were built.
In the 1990s, it was again expanded and enhanced by the addition of Championship Miniature Golf and the Altoona-Tipton Speedway. These two attractions existed at the park until 2015 when an expansion of the water park resulted in them being removed.
The first water attractions were installed in 1997 with the Tipton Waterworks, featuring two slides, directional sprays, fountains, and water-spouting mushrooms. This was the first phase of the water inclusions.
Laguna Splash Water Park now consists of a lazy river, wave pool and many interactive features. There also is a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, tipping wine barrels and more.
DelGrosso Food Company, in its continued growth, expanded to begin packing store brand sauces for grocery chains. Currently, DelGrosso Foods packs more than 300 recipes for roughly half of the 20 largest grocery chains in the U.S., along with it own brands and several international ones.
DelGrosso's Park now has over 30 rides and attractions and is still family-owned and operated. The 75th anniversary is a milestone which has made all the DelGrosso family proud, and guests this year are reaping the benefits.