Retired journalist Bill Tammeus once wrote, “You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.”
Before it closed in 1995, the amusement park at Rocky Point offered generations of New Englanders thrills, chills and spills with its vast array of concerts, shows, games and rides, not forgetting their world famous clam cakes and chowder. For some Rhode Island children, summer didn’t officially begin until the first trip to Rocky Point was made.
Many Millennials, and those born thereafter, never had the luxury of experiencing the park in its full glory during their lifetime. But that hasn’t stopped 15-year-old Sean McCarthy from collecting and creating his own special Rocky Point memories and keepsakes from a time gone by.
“I had never been to the Rocky Point amusement park, but I love collecting the stuff and reading about it and its history,” said Sean.
Inspired by recent coverage from the Warwick Beacon of salvage efforts, current conditions and demolition plans for Rocky Point, Sean contacted the newspaper through Facebook with a collection of items that most park enthusiasts would envy. In this highly digital age, it was print media that originally started Sean on his own Rocky Point ride.
“I learned about Rocky Point when my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Corley, at Wyman gave me one of the Rocky Point comic books, and I found it very interesting,” he said. “I started collecting these items because it was my city’s history and I found it very cool.”
Finding and purchasing collectibles from contentious online auctions and in various local hobby shops with his saved up money, the collection has grown from an original Corkscrew wax paper cup to one that includes unused tickets, park brochures, keychains, old advertisements, water bottles, bottle toss rings, bumper stickers, postcards, gemstone pendants, models, ride wristbands and much more.
“My family, friends and teachers have all helped me get stuff for my collection,” he said. “My favorite item is the Rocky Point Park uniform that the workers wore.”
Sean’s mother, Debbie, attributes her son’s infatuation with the park to a love of history and art.
“He started this collection by himself, and we’ve encouraged him to do so. Sean’s always been very artistic, always loved Halloween, and he found something that intrigued him in Rocky Point and the House of Horrors,” said Debbie.
Arguably, the most unique item of Sean’s collection is a lifelike replica of a car from the House of Horrors, which he built himself and keeps in his room.
“I went through a few designs before creating this one, which took two full days to build.”
Sean credits David Picozzi, Warwick’s Public Works director, who assisted him in acquiring the car’s front image of the Wolfman. The city saved cars from the ride, and Sean was able to take close up photographs of the front image, which he then recreated using a computer. He also used those pictures to accurately recreate the car’s likeness.
Living only a few minutes from Rocky Point on Wildflower Circle, Sean and his family now utilize the walking path there weekly, yet are extremely disappointed with the way the park currently looks. He hopes that future ideas for the park draw on past experiences, so that his generation can enjoy the park the way his parents did.
“I hope they clean it up good and rebuild the chowder house and bring in an amusement company to set up rides during the summer time,” he said. “If the park was open today, I’d definitely be spending my money there.”