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Nunley's Amusement Park was located on Sunrise Highway in Baldwin, NY, on the border with Freeport, New York, and operated from 1939 to 1995. Happyland was established by William Nunley, a third-generation amusement park entrepreneur, who also operated facilities in Bethpage, Rockaway Beach, Yonkers, and Broad Channel, N.Y.
Nunley's restaurant served pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, the cheese-burger deluxe, pastrami on rye, fountain soda, soft serve ice-cream in vanilla, chocolate, or twists with sprinkles and bags of French fries slathered in ketchup. It was a popular arcade hot spot during the '80s gaming boom, featuring all of the latest games, but also housed classics from generations gone past. There was an old fortune teller, much like the one featured in Tom Hanks movie Big, pinball, a coin-operated dancing clown band, and a number of Skee ball lanes.
Nunley's was also a children's amusement park, featuring a roller coaster, little boats atop water, hand pedal cars on a track, a Ferris wheel, spin tubs, kiddie cars, planes, a miniature golf course, and a Carousel.
Often, the parents of visiting children had ridden the very same carousel when they were small. Children clambered up to the same old-fashioned ticket booth, and sometimes pointed out its most famous resident, a man with white hair, whom they often called Mr. Nunley.
Nunley's underwent a hepatitis B scare in the late '80s when one of the chefs was diagnosed with the disease; no patrons were affected.
Billy Joel's instrumental piece "Waltz # 1 (Nunley's Carousel)" appeared in the Broadway musical Movin' Out and is featured on the original cast recording.
In an episode of HBO's Entourage, while playing golf by his pool, Eric Murphy makes a reference to his niece playing mini golf at Nunley's as a child, though this reference is chronologically impossible. At the time of the reference (2005), Eric's six-year-old niece would have been born at least four years after Nunley's closed.
The carousel, manufactured in 1912 by Stein & Goldstein Artistic Carousell Co. of Brooklyn for Canarsie’s Golden City Park, and was moved to Nunley's Amusement Park in Baldwin, New York in 1940. When Nunley's closed, the carousel was stored in a hangar in Mitchel Field next to the Cradle of Aviation aviation museum.
Long Island native Billy Joel wrote a waltz as a tribute to the beloved attraction, which he enjoyed riding on as a child. Now residing in Oyster Bay, Long Island, the singer was unsuccessful in having the carousel moved out of storage and placed in a park in Oyster Bay. It is now on display on Museum Row in Garden City.
The carousel has 41 horses, a stand still lion, and 2 sit down chariots. A wooden arm filled with rings reaches out toward the carousel so that passerby passengers could reach out & grab them. The rings are silver & brass. If a patron grabs a brass ring, they win a free ride on the carousel.
There have been attempts by several local schools to refurbish the Nunley's carousel.
In August 2007, two trucks from Carousel Works in Ohio, the largest manufacturer of wooden merry-go-rounds in the world, arrived at Museum Row at Mitchel Field remove pieces of the Carousel for restoration at the company's headquarters in Mansfield, Ohio. In the fall of 2008, a restored carousel was returned for reassembly on a new plaza between the Cradle of Aviation Museum and Long Island Children's Museum in East Garden City, New York. It now plays a special soundtrack provided by Billy Joel. The singer-songwriter was asked if he would allow his "Waltz No. 1, Op. 2," which is subtitled "Nunley's Carousel" and is inspired by his childhood rides on it, to be played on the restored carousel organ. A Joel spokesman said Joel arranged for David Rosenthal, his keyboard player, to go into a studio to record the piano composition with a carousel organ-like instrumentation.
The restoration was paid for with $420,000 from discretionary capital funds controlled by Nassau County Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin), along with money raised by Pennies for Ponies, a nonprofit group started two years ago by Rachel Obergh, now 13, of Wantagh, New York. So far, 28 of 42 carousel animals have been adopted for restoration for $2,000 each by schools, a Baldwin hardware store, the Lercari family (who owned Nunley's) and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi. The county also budgeted $1 million for a new enclosure for the carousel.
The county purchased the ride for $854,400 in 1998.
In March 15, 2009, the caretakers for the old carousel said that it had just finished being refurbished, and was scheduled to open for rides on Saturday, May 2, 2009.
There is a sign near the Ferris wheel that reads:
The "Nunley's" name also belongs to a number of family-owned furniture stores located in Elizabethton, Tennessee. The "Nunley's" furniture stores have served the Tri-Cities Tennessee region for a half century. "Nunley's" is known for providing the region with "big city" shopping in small town America.
One of the furniture stores is located in the historical Kress building in downtown Elizabethton. The architecture of this building can be credited to the same Sibbert that manufactured the "Nunley's" carousel horses mentioned above. This location is called "Furniture Plaza at Nunley's Downtown".
Another "Nunley's" furniture store is located in a converted car dealership building. The plate glass windows make a perfect display for drive-by window shoppers. The building was originally built for a gas station and grocery store of the 1940s called "Southland Service". The gas station had a cafe and a "Pan Am" sign was erected on the premises. Today, this location is known as "Nunley's Uptown".
Yet, another "Nunley's" furniture store is located in an old "chair factory building". A chair factory was in operation in this location on Hwy 19E in Elizabethton during the 1950s. This store is called "Nunley's at the Chair Factory".
An additional location in downtown Elizabethton is called "Furniture Plaza". This location, at 512 West East E Street, was an A&P grocery store in the mid 1900s.
Joey Dane Nunley Nashville Tennessee
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