McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 20, 2014

In need of a lift? Ferris wheel coming to Meadowlake Park

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — In collaboration between community donors and the city of Enid, a 45-foot tall Ferris wheel is headed this way soon.

The wheel, manufactured by Eli Bridge Co. in 1948 and recently refurbished, will be owned by Enid Kiwanis Club and placed alongside the club’s existing rides at Meadowlake Park.

Kiwanian and Enid Parks Board Chairman Matt Davis and Ward 5 Commissioner Tammy Wilson traveled to Illinois to see the wheel first-hand. While there, they also saw a century-old Ferris wheel that’s still operational. Davis said he talked to Oklahoma’s amusement rides inspector, who is familiar with Eli Bridge Co.’s work.

“He knew all the Eli Bridge people by first name,” Davis told Enid City Commission on Thursday. “He said they are just a great company to work with. They make several other rides you’re familiar with.”

Wilson said she is confident in the company, too.

“Buying it from the people who manufacture it makes me feel pretty good about this. They know it from inside out and how it runs,” she said.

The wheel can fit up to 36 people, and the buckets can be removed during windy days to ease stress on the structure.

Davis said Kiwanis Club may install an automated ticket kiosk instead of hiring ticket booth workers at the park, which costs the organization about $5,000 each year summer.

Kiwanis will have raised more than $66,000 to cover purchasing the wheel. City commissioners now will have to approve spending about $53,000 on lights, electrical work, structural plans, a concrete foundation, a permanent fence and installation costs.

Davis said Champlin Foundation donated $40,000 toward the project. Kiwanis and Park Avenue Thrift helped with the rest.

Kiwanians would be responsible for maintaining and operating the wheel. Eli Bridge will install it and provide training on maintenance and operation.

There are several light packages the city can choose from, but Wilson suggested lighting up one side of the wheel – the side facing U.S. 81.

“Having this there where it’s visible from the highway, I think it’s going to be an Enid landmark,” she said.

Davis hopes to have the wheel installed this fall.

In a brief meeting Thursday evening, the commissioners also approved contract extensions for the city’s two municipal judges.

They also approved the final plat for Wilderness Cove 2nd Addition.