The amusement park that had been in operation for 71 years in West View was already gone and replaced by a shopping mall by the time Mike Funyak was born in 1992.
But his lifelong love and fascination with theme parks made him eager to learn all he could about the famous West View Park.
The result of his research was a new book called “West View Park: The Story of the TM Harton Company”.
The 286-page book, published by Tarentum-based Word Association Publishers, contains 300 photographs of the park, including a previously unpublished number. It is available to buy online.
“I had never heard of West View Park until I was seven or eight when my grandmother mentioned that she met my grandfather at Danceland, which was at the park,” said Vuniak, 29.
“I remember thinking: How could there be another amusement park in the area not so long ago and I had no idea it existed? All I knew was Kennywood because that was where we went as kids.”
Funyak’s interest in learning about the inner workings of theme parks led him to work in Kennywood Park during the summer while studying business at Robert Morris University.
After graduation, Penn Township, Westmoreland County, moved to the Altoona area to take a job at Delgrosso theme park.
One of Funyak’s goals for the book was to go beyond simple memories of the theme park and delve deeper into the park’s operations and the role that Harton played in the country’s theme park industry.
In addition to West View Park, Harton has operated theme park rides and franchises at multiple parks in the United States and Europe. The company was a pioneer in the mass production of amusement equipment.
Vonak said his work in the amusement park helped him shape the focus of his book.
“Theme parks are an important part of many people’s lives because they are the place they go to put their worries behind and gather with their friends and family for fun and entertainment,” he said.
“But creating those memories for people doesn’t just happen by turning off the lights. It’s a people-run business. So I wanted to tell the story of these people and how they helped shape the amusement park industry.”
The interest in preserving the memory of West View Park has led to efforts Establish a museum to preserve artifacts and memorabilia from the park.
In addition to personal research around the theme park and its founders, Funyak has tracked down the descendants of the park’s early operators. He also interviewed former employees and professionals in the entertainment industry.
“I wanted this book to be more than just something for people who love theme parks or have memories of West View Park,” he said. “I wanted to document part of the history of the Pittsburgh area and how West View Park helped create the park industry we know today.”
Persons attending are requested to bring a non-perishable food item to assist the West View Hub Food Pantry.
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