Some concerned Zippin Pippin might draw wrong crowd in Green Bay: teens

Since Green Bay, Wisc., bought and rebuilt the Zippin Pippin for $3.5 million, the iconic roller coaster has become a source of some controversy up in TitleTown, where it is about to open as the star attraction of Bay Beach Amusement Park. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported in Sunday's editions that some local officials are concerned that the Zippin Pippin, set to open May 21 after a weather-related delay, will draw large groups of teenagers -- and attendant security problems -- to Bay Beach, which traditionally has served families with small children. There is some precedent for such concerns:

City officials in the 1990s attempted to attract older children to Bay Beach by hosting Teen Night activities, including music, pizza and free rides. That experiment ended in 2005 following several instances of unruly crowds and fistfights.

Says Patrick Evans, a county board member who ran for mayor on an anti-Zippin Pippin platform:

"I think you can invite some problems," he said. "Not everyone who goes there is going to be a wonderful person."

For their part, the mayor, the police and boosters in the neighborhood around Bay Beach all are rooting for the Zippin Pippin and think it will improve the 100-year-old amusement park. Larry Maxwell is a former Memphian and a current booster for Elvis' favorite roller coaster.

Maxwell recalled that the classic wooden roller coaster was wildly popular in Memphis when he was growing up there in the 1960s and '70s. The coaster had a special allure at county fairs, festivals and other seasonal events, he said.

"The Zippin Pippin seemed to always be the center of attention," he said. "It didn't matter who you were or anything else -- everybody loved it."


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