What comes to mind when you think about amusement parks? Funnel cake, Ferris wheels, games and maybe even win a prize. Going to amusement parks becomes a tradition for families. But what if it became in jeopardy?
That’s exactly what Arnold’s Park in Iowa faced back in 1993. The section of land the park resides on went up for sale with a potential purchaser intending to turn the spot into condominiums, forever changing the beautiful lakeside view. What was the town to do?
Residents immediately took action and raised $7 million in 30 days to save the 125-year old amusement park. Needless to say, there is quite a bit of community pride in Arnold’s Park. The park was then turned into a non-profit organization and is owned by the community. Naturally, the area is a boon for tourists and community events, such as free concerts, art fairs and boating recreation. Their digital Daktronics marquee serves as a welcoming committee for park visitors. The display serves several purposes, from thanking the non-profit’s sponsors to announcing upcoming concerts and events as well as listing park hours.
This isn’t the park’s first digital display. A previous display was replaced with the current sign from Daktronics. We talked to Jill Harms, President of the HAPI Board of Directors, to see why they switched. “In the past, we’ve had storms and lightning is always a possibility. It caused outage problems. The solid-state display was a big selling point for us. We knew this was a higher-quality brand- you have more experience and history- and we wanted something that wasn’t going to fail us. About a million people pass our display each summer, so it’s crucial for it to remain operational.”
Was it hard to make the switch? “Our foundation members simply said ‘it was about time.’ Our old display was small and hard to read. We’ve had an enormous amount of sponsors tell us how much they’ve gained from people letting them know their appreciation for sponsoring events in the park. It’s the epicenter of the area to congregate. If you don’t know what to do some evening, you go to the park. This is where people come to mingle.”
Considering that the park is a non-profit organization, how did a new display rank on the list of updates to complete? “It’s essential to let people know what is going on. People care deeply about the park and want to protect it; there is a lot of nostalgia and families come year after year. They want to know when things are going on, like our current campaign of raising $12 million to restore structures in the park to look like the originals. It is always good to get the word out and raise awareness with up to date, real-time information. Arnold’s Park is the heart of the community, and people will support its efforts.”
Daktronics is proud to take part in blending digital with historical to provide families the best experience while making memories each year.