By Angeljean Chiaramida
---- — SALISBURY — It may be in ruins, but the whale located on the site of the former Kartland amusement park is getting a lot of attention.
Newburyport resident, and Salisbury Beach enthusiast, Jason Rivera is trying to rescue the crumbling sculpture he’s loved since he was a boy. And a number of Massachusetts state troopers at the Newbury barracks are wondering if that whale once had an earlier career at a theme park previously located behind their station. Built in 1957, Adventure Land was open during most of the 1960s.
Joel Kahn represents the new owners now developing the former Kartland facility at 191 Beach Road into a 210-unit apartment complex. He says his clients have been in talks with Rivera and the company is willing to allow the whale to be moved so Rivera can restore it.
Rivera hopes to find a new site, somewhere at Salisbury Beach, to host the whale so it can become a local mascot.
The whale may be famous in Salisbury now, but a number of members of Troop A of the State Police say it is very possible the whale was once located by the pirate ship at the Adventure Land amusement park, which used to sit on their land.
Adventure Land had replicas of the Wild West, a castle-enriched Story Land, as well as the ship, complete with a spouting whale.
“If you want to rely on the memory of the 6-year-old I was at the time, I remember seeing the whale from the highway,” said State Police Sgt. Frank Puopolo. “You could see it from (Interstate) 95 southbound. It had a billboard behind it for Adventure Land.”
Puopolo said that was probably sometime in the mid-to-late-1960s, when he pestered his parents to take him to the theme park. They did, he said, and he again remembers seeing the whale inside the park, near the ship.
And when Puopolo grew older and saw the whale at Kartland, he thought it looked very familiar.
“I recall thinking it’s the same whale,” Puopolo said. “I had an immediate association when I saw it with the Adventure Land whale.”
Jack Goldman owned and ran Kartland for decades, and the whale sits in the former miniature golf course once known as Nat’s Fun Park that was on Kartland’s property. According to his son, Neil, Jack Goldman is pretty sure that his whale was built onsite.
The whale is hollow, formed by chicken wire embedded in the ground, then covered with a sprayed concrete product known as shotcrete or “gunite,” a substance also used to cover the sides of swimming pools.
Time and the weather haven’t been kind to the whale. Its once upturned tail has broken off the body and lays on the ground. The body of the whale may have rotted and be close to collapse.
But that isn’t stopping the chatter about the sculpture, its origins, and its future — or quelling the affection that many feel for it.
Anyone who may recall the whether the Kartland whale and the Adventure Land whale are one and the same is welcome to email Angeljean at firstname.lastname@example.org.