Trimper’s Rides and Amusements of Ocean City enters the new year with the satisfaction and pride of having been named the recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Maryland Traditions Heritage Award for 2016.
Trimper’s, on the Boardwalk, has been operating in the resort since 1893, make it the oldest continually owned amusement center in Ocean City. According to amusement park historian Jim Futrell, it also has the distinction of being the oldest continuously owned and operated family amusement park in the nation.
Daniel and Margaret Trimper began the amusement park which is now operated and managed by sisters Linda Trimper Holloway, serving as president, and Stephanie Lewis, vice president, along their nephew, Brooks Trimper who is the operations manager. Lewis and Holloway are the great-grandchildren of the founders.
Lewis and employee Monica Thrash attended the awards banquet and ceremony held in November. Lewis accepted the honors and briefly addressed with audience.
“It was scary for me,” she said with laughter. “I had not performed in public since I was in a production of Cinderella in 1981.”
As for Thrash, of Salisbury, she is the co-author of “Trimper’s Rides,” an Images of America pictorial book of the legendary Ocean City amusement park.
Trimper’s was nominated for the award by Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum Salisbury University. She, too, attended the awards ceremony.
“They are an important landmark of Maryland beach traditions and known nationally and internationally as a premier seaside recreation site,” Bottinelli said. “I think it’s awesome that their quest is fun and play and that it has long benefitted Ocean City.”
The family and business also received a citation from Delegate Mary Beth Carozza on behalf of the Maryland General Assembly. Trimper’s the citation noted, “is a place where Marylanders have been making meaningful memories for generations.”
Trimper’s also received a Governor’s Citation “in gratitude for establishing the park as an important community gathering space.”
While there are a number of rides for children and young adults at the park, the drawing card has been the 1912 Herschell-Spillman carousel. It has been in continuous seasonal operation on the same site where it was installed since the merry-go-round began attracting riders of all ages more than a century ago. Called the “Pride of the Boardwalk,” the indoor carousel is among the oldest and rarest of its kind in the nation.
It was also the pride and joy of the Granville and Joanne Morgan Trimper, the late parents of Lewis and Holloway. Both recalled the fondness the two had for the carousel.
Yet it was the Sharptown Carnival that brought Granville and Joanne together.
Peg Rider of Sharptown, soon to be 99, remembers when a young Granville Trimper was often in town working on the rides and Ferris Wheel that the Trimper family made available to the town’s volunteer firefighters for their fund-raising carnival.
Trimper — who became famous in his youth as the owner of a Big Eli Ferris Wheel at age 12 — caught the eye of Joanne Morgan, whose father, Joe, operated a garage in town.
“She wanted to impress Granville, so she came to my house wanting the borrow a fashionable dress,” recalls Rider. “I wear a size four, and she did, too. We picked out a pretty dress for her. The dress must have worked, she eventually married him.”
Joanne returned the dress and Rider still keeps the garment, looking just-made, in her attic.!
Joanne and Trimper were married in 1944, despite her father’s initial objections to her marrying “carnival people.”
She died in 1991. He remarried and passed away in 2008.
While the Heritage Award recognizes a place or site in Maryland as being special, in this case the family legacy is so closely associated with the amusement park.
The Trimpers provided employment to generations of locals over the years and benefitted the Ocean City community and Worcester County with decades of service in political and civic organizations.
Contact Brice Stump at firstname.lastname@example.org.