HERO-A-GO-GO! “Last night, I took a walk after dark: a swingin’ place called Palisades Park…”
UPDATED 6/10/22: In this week’s RETRO HOT PICKS, we noted that Freddy Cannon’s ode to summer, Palisades Park, was a Top 10 hit in 1962. Which naturally got us thinking about this excerpt from Michael Eury’s superb Hero-A-Go-Go! published by TwoMorrows. We serialized the book when it came out in 2017 but it’s almost summer so this seemed like a great time to re-present this installment. Hero-A-Go-Go! is one of my personal faves and you can click here to order it, directly from TwoMorrows. Dig it. — Dan
Every Saturday for 13 weeks, we’re serializing Back Issue editor Michael Eury’s upcoming book Hero-A-Go-Go! — a ginchy exploration of the Silver Age and Swingin’ Sixties. For other installments, click here. And you can order the book here.
As a kid, sometimes the ads in comics were as captivating as the stories themselves, especially when you’d be reading through back issues — which for me generally meant the Batman comics of the ’60s. You’d come across things that were no longer available, making that desire to have that thing that much richer.
Paging through those issues, I’d inevitably come across an ad for Palisades Park featuring Superman or Batman (or Wonder Woman).
Come on, an amusement park featuring Batman and Superman? That’s a special corner of nirvana right there. Thing is, I didn’t really understand that it was less than an hour away from where we lived in New Jersey. Not that it mattered: By the time these ads pulled me under their sway, it had closed down anyway.
Taking all that in, I’ve looked at those ads with a certain wistfulness. If I’d been born five years earlier, I almost certainly would have made it there. At least I like to think so, though maybe my Mom would argue that the Asbury Park boardwalk was a lot closer.
Anyway, I was really pleased that Michael Eury decided to feature Palisades Park in Hero-A-Go-Go! and there was no way I wasn’t going to pick off an excerpt to share here.
Here’s a truncated Q&A with Vince Gargiulo, the park’s most prominent historian and operator of PalisadesPark.com.
Oh, and enjoy a couple of videos as well — including one that Batman collectibles maven Art Cloos found on YouTube.
By MICHAEL EURY
Michael Eury: Since Superman was Palisades Park’s pitchman in DC Comics throughout the Sixties, did an actor dressed as Superman ever appear at the park?
Vince Gargiulo: I don’t believe anyone ever appeared at Palisades as a Superman costumed character. George Reeves did, however, make a personal appearance. I do not have an exact date as to when this occurred.
Michael: Were there marketing studies conducted to show how many attendees were drawn to the park from outside of the New York metro area by the ads published in comic books?
Vince: None that I am aware of. But based on published newspaper articles throughout the lifetime of the park, I was able to calculate that 33% of the visitors to Palisades were from New York.
Michael: The Batman Slide was built in the mid-Sixties. Do you know exactly when? I’m assuming it was in response to the overnight success of TV’s Batman, which first aired in January 1966.
Vince: The first mention I found of the Batman Slide in news articles was from March 1966.
Michael: What Batman-isms were featured on the Batman Slide?
Vince: At the very top of the tower was a large cutout of the comic-book Batman. Below that was a sign that read “Batman Slide,” with a version of the Batman logo in the background. I do not believe they ever included Robin’s image anywhere on the attraction.
Michael: Was the Batman Slide still in operation when the park closed in 1971?
Vince: Yes, the Batman Slide was in operation right up until September 12, 1971. It was sold to Adventurers Inn in Queens, N.Y.
Michael: There was also a Batcave amusement there around the same time. What was it?
Vince: It was nothing more than a simple barrel that rotated while patrons tried to make it from one end to the other. The park already had one of these in their fun house. But I guess they decided to install this one with the Batman theme and ride the wave of popularity.
The attraction is frequently found inside fun houses and is called the “Barrel of Fun” or the “Barrel of Love.”
Michael: While Superman, Batman, Casper, and Archie had some type of Palisades Park presence, Spider-Man and Captain America were noticeably absent. Were there ever any gestures made to Marvel Comics about an attraction featuring one of its heroes?
Vince: None that I am aware of.
Michael: Although it’s been nearly a half-century since Palisades Amusement Park closed, it maintains a warm spot in the hearts of many. What was it about the park that has made its legacy endure?
Vince: For many Baby Boomers, Palisades Amusement Park was so much a part of their childhood. Whether you lived in the area and visited the park every week, or you lived elsewhere and only visited the park once, it left fond memories to everyone who was lucky enough to experience the magic that was Palisades Amusement Park.
NEXT: Open Channel D — A Salute to The MAN FROM UNCLE. Click here.
You can order Hero-A-Go-Go! here.
— An INSIDE LOOK at HERO-A-GO-GO! Click here.
— It’s SUMMERTIME! Dig This Groovy Comics History Reading List. Click here.
July 5, 2020
Dan Greenfield, Palisades Amusement Park had the GREATEST roller coaster EVER!!! Why was it the GREATEST, hands-down (sorry, Coney Island & anywhere else)? Because it was a large wooden-slatted coaster perched on the top of the Palisdades mountains, so that when you were at its apex, before the stomach-churning first long drop, you looked out over to your left, and you were SO HIGH UP that you could not only look over the Hudson River, but you could see OVER the NYC skyline!!! There will NEVER be another view like that!! (And they “paved Paradise and put up a parking lot” instead!!!)
July 5, 2020
I find this post to be very epically amusing.
July 6, 2020
I am so glad I never convinced my parents to make the Trek from Chicago to NJ to visit the Park. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it had it not been so heavily advertised with Superman and Batman. I think even as a 6-11 year-old, I would have been disappointed at the lack of DC Comics-themed attractions much in the same way I was disappointed that Sesame Street didn’t include more DC Comics characters.
September 16, 2021
My sister messaged me on Facebook and reminded me of when we went to Palisades park in San Diego (circa 1964). And I told her how I’d gone armed with a fistful of Palisades Park coupons from the back of my comic books. But, of course, they didn’t accept them in San Diego because (as it says right on the coupon) they are for the Palisades Park in New Jersey. I was a very disappointed 12 year old.
June 10, 2022
Freddy Cannon’s Palisades Park was written by game show mogul and host of the Gong Show Chuck Barris.
June 11, 2022
So it was a CIA plot!
June 10, 2022
Always loved the song!
February 19, 2023
I remember seeing adverts for Palisades Amusement Park in my Superman comics back in the sixties. Seemed impossibly exciting to a little kid the UK. Weird how these things take you back, I remember how I felt as clearly as if it was yesterday.