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Documenting The Lost Parks Of Northern California

Kristopher Rowberry has counted 27 amusement parks in Northern California that are gone. He wants to make sure they are not forgotten, too

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    Kristopher Rowberry has counted 27 amusement parks in Northern California that are gone. He wants to make sure they are not forgotten, too. (Published Friday, Nov 15, 2013)

    Remember the old saying about how "one man's trash is another man's treasure?"

    Well, it's a good thing to keep in mind as you watch Kristopher Rowberry tour what used to be the Santa's Village amusement park in Scotts Valley.
    "This is amazing," Kris says excitedly as he kneels on a hay covered floor in one of the park's last remaining, and severely dilapidated, buildings.
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    The "treasure" he has found, scattered among the pieces of hay, are hundreds of admissions tickets to the now-defunct amusement park. Most are tattered and torn, appearing to have been nibbled at by an animal, most likely a rat or mouse. Still, Kris can hardly contain his excitement. "Admission was just 90 cents!" Kris says as he examines one of the tickets. "That wouldn't even cover the tax on an amusement park ticket today."
    Kris is doing all this while wearing a microphone, a video camera following his every move. He is taping the latest episode of his documentary series: Lost Parks Of Northern California.
    "Amusement parks are part of Americana," Kris says. "We should take pride in that and celebrate that."
    Kris says he grew up, ironically, petrified of roller coasters. It wasn't until one day in the early 1990's at Great America in Santa Clara that his father coaxed him onto the Tidal Wave roller coaster. Kris says not only did that ride turn his body upside down, it turned his life upside down. "Something happened on that loop," Kris says "and this whole world opened up to me."
    Kris became an avid fan of coasters and parks. He studied their history. He joined the Northern California chapter of American Coaster Enthusiasts. He traveled the country experiencing as many different parks and rides as he could.
    Kris also came upon the idea of combining his interest in video, history, and amusement parks into a documentary series.
    WATCH THE LOST PARKS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
    When Kris first conceived of the idea of the Lost Parks series, he knew of only a handful of parks that were no longer in existence. "We didn't think there were more than 12," Kris says "however, through our research we have found 27 amusement parks that we have lost just in Northern California." Kris has already completed films about San Jose's Luna Park, Manteca's Waterslides, and San Mateo's Pacific City.
    "It's about reconnecting people to their history," Kris said.
    Next up: Santa's Village. Opened from the late 1950's to the late 1970's, Santa's Village has been closed for 34 years. 
    As Kris and his crew arrived to videotape, bulldozers sat just feet away. Kris says a developer has plans to build housing on the site. Kris says it is one of the reasons he is so excited to be here, knowing it will likely be all gone in a matter of weeks.
    Kris does not get paid for any of his films, though he wouldn't mind finding a way to make some money through the work. He has completed four films, with the Santa's Village segment expected to premiere in December.