- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

June 27, 2014

Take the ‘K’ train

Ada — The sounds of summer are in the air … birds singing, woodpeckers hammering away at trees, lawnmowers circling manicured lawns and the train whistle and bell coming from Wintersmith Park.

Each summer for 56 years, the sound of the miniature train chugging around its track has drawn area residents to the northeast corner of the park.

Nestled amongst trees, swings and a creek that feeds the lake, is Kiwanis Park. A small brown building houses a concession stand and ticket booth. Park-goers can purchase popcorn, sno-cones or a soda for a small fee. A carousel spins nearby, giving children rides on racehorses, zebras or perhaps a giraffe. A miniature 18-hole golf course tempts passersby to try their putting skills. But the biggest draw — what children light up for the most — is the train.

The white train with the blue Kiwanis "K" pulls two cars with 12 bench seats and pinstripe canopies. It circles a small portion of the park near the children's play areas. The whistle toots while the bell clangs away, warning walkers to stay off the tracks while the locomotive is en route. The ride may only be five minutes long, but it is a glorious five minutes for the small passengers, who are often brought by parents, who, in turn, grew up riding the train.

"I frequently rode the Kiwanis train and carousel as a child with my parents and now enjoy the same activities with my son," former Ada resident Johnna Compton said. "Sharing the same experiences now reminds me of times before iPhones and social media took up so much of these simple pleasures." Although she now lives in Roff, she makes the drive to share a flashback to her childhood with her son.

Kiwanis Club of Greater Ada member Bob Vavricka said he knows many people who bring their children back for train or carousel rides or to putt-putt.

This summer, the Kiwanis park is open nightly from 6-9 p.m. Train and carousel rides cost 75 cents and miniature golf is $1.50. Concession prices range from 75 cents for popcorn, sno-cones and a small drink to $1.25 for a 32 ounce soda.

Recently, the Kiwanis members were able to purchase a shaved ice machine, which will expand the number of flavors available and cost $1 for an 8-ounce and $2 for a 16-ounce sno-cone.

"We're going to call it Wintersmith Snow," Vavricka said. "We plan to debut it at Movie Night at the Park on Saturday. It's a city of Ada event, but they need someone to sponsor the movie, and we're sponsoring this one on Saturday."

The movie showing will be "The Lego Movie" and will begin at dusk south of the Wintersmith Lodge.

Before the movie, the Kiwanis Park will be open at 5 p.m. with rides, putt-putt and concessions at regular prices.

Vavricka said they will also be selling hotdogs and hamburgers near the movie area. Free bounce houses will also be on site for kids to enjoy at 6 p.m.

The money raised will go to the Fourth of July fireworks display, Vavricka said.

The Kiwanis Club of Greater Ada also funds the local firework display each year and relies on donations and proceeds from Kiwanis Park for funding.

"We are a civic club," Vavricka said. "No one person makes a profit. Everything we make goes back to the park or community."

Vavricka said the Kiwanis Club of Greater Ada manages the park, but gets help from members of the Kiwanis Club of Ada and the Diamond K Kiwanis to keep things running through the summer hours.

Once school starts again in August, the park will only be open on Friday and Saturday evenings. "We're going to try to keep it open through September," Vavricka said.

The members volunteer their time for the rotating schedule, but Vavricka said they can always use more volunteers and members.

To volunteer time for the park, make a donation, or for more information about becoming a member of Kiwanis, call Vavricka at 580-421-5779. To book Kiwanis Park for parties outside of regular hours, call 580-436-8021. Party prices are posted on the Kiwanis Club of Greater Ada Facebook page.

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