The History of Food and Fun in Tipton, Pennsylvania
(EDITOR’S NOTE: From the early 1900s until 2000, DelGrosso’s Amusement Park was known by the name of the family farm on which it was founded and was called Bland's Park. On November 1, 2000, after more than 50 years of ownership and management by the DelGrosso Family, Bland’s Park became DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.)
Generations of families from across Pennsylvania have special memories of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park. Since its beginnings around the turn of the century, the Park has been a source of family entertainment. The Rinard brothers first entertained the public on the Bland Family farm in 1907 when they brought their carnival to Tipton. Twelve years later, Fred Bland opened the park, which consisted of a small dance floor and a picnic grove.
The Roaring 20’s were prosperous in Tipton. Many of the crowds who came to the Altoona-Tipton Speedway, located just up the road, also visited the Park. In 1928 the Bland Family sold the park to George Rinard, who brought in more rides. He also added a bowling alley and a roller skating rink. Then, the nation and the Park suffered a difficult period during the Great Depression.
Altoona railroader Fred DelGrosso believed that he and his wife, Mafalda, could give new life to the Park. He bought the amusement park in 1946 and almost immediately began improvements. During the next decade, the Park was reborn! Under Fred DelGrosso’s guidance, the amusement park grew to include adult and kiddie rides, new concession stands and new restrooms. The park was growing and so was the DelGrosso Family. Fred and Murf’s seven sons and daughters, along with their husbands and wives, joined in cooking the food, running the rides and hosting reunions, company picnics and family outings.
The pride and joy of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park is the Antique Carouselle. It was manufactured in the 1920s by the artisans at the Herschell Spillman Carouselle Company of North Tonowanda, NY. The 36 hand-carved carouselle horses are considered true antiques. The park’s machine is one of only 30 carouselles left in Pennsylvania and one of less than 70 remaining in the United States.
The DelGrosso Family embarked on a multimillion-dollar improvement plan in the 1980s. New rides were added, and an elaborate concession stand and gift shop were built. The safety of guests was further enhanced in 1989 when the DelGrosso Family built a crosswalk over U.S. Route 220.
The 90s saw great expansion at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park. The family fun experience was enhanced by the addition of Championship Miniature Golf and the Altoona-Tipton Speedway. The golf course, exclusively designed for Tipton, featured an 18-hole course, a 22-foot mountain featuring a five-tier waterfall, a swinging bridge, a cave and numerous water hazards. The Altoona-Tipton Speedway Go-Kart track embraced the spirit of the past with fun technology. The track featured 20 go-karts. The golf course and go-kart track were removed in 2015 to make room for a major water park expansion project.
Water attractions made their debut in Tipton for the first time in 1997. The Tipton Waterworks features two slides, directional sprays, fountains and water-spouting mushrooms. A HUGE bucket fills with water and tips every 10 minutes, dumping hundreds of gallons of water onto the waiting crowds! The Tipton Waterworks was the first phase of a multi-faceted water park. Two years later, the five exciting slides of the Tipton Rapids opened. Gravity Groove, Midnight Express, Great White and the Twin Twisters have become the Summer destination of thousands of fun and sun seekers.
Three new rides arrived in the spring of 2004. The Crazy Mouse and the Free Fall quickly became a new memory makers for park visitors. Smaller park patrons now had a new roller coaster in the Wacky Worm.
Whether you enjoy country music, christian contemporary music, native american dancing or family entertainment, DelGrosso’s Amusement Park offers family entertainment in a variety of ways through a variety of shows around the park. Concerts take place on our large permanent stage (built in the 80s), the free concerts have become a prominent part of summer fun.
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in known as the home of America’s Best Amusement Park Food. Each summer season, park guests feast on appetizing sandwiches, “Murf’s” potato salad, fresh-made pizza and other delicious foods made fresh each day.
Who doesn’t like fireworks? Since the first time Fred DelGrosso invited the famous Rozzi fireworks family of Loveland, Ohio, to Tipton, July 4th has always been spectacular. Today, the third generation DelGrosso and Rozzi Families continue that tradition. Summer Thunder is viewed by tens of thousands of people every year. The shells for Summer Thunder are custom-designed to match a music soundtrack which is broadcast live on Froggy 98 Radio.
September is always an exciting month in Tipton. An Italian Food Festival highlights the family’s ethnic roots and also serves as a fundraising venue for many area organizations. For more than a dozen years, the season ends with the very popular Harvestfest.
The once-small picnic grove in Tipton has grown into a full-scale family amusement center that still features family entertainment at reasonable prices, free admission, free parking, and free live entertainment.
The DelGrosso Family is continuing their commitment to affordable family fun in the region and is looking forward to a major expansion in 2016. Laguna Splash Water Park is scheduled to open Memorial Day Weekend of 2016. The $12.5 million expansion project includes a new grand entrance area, ticket booths, five new food stands, a lazy river and a wave pool complex.
The following video was put together as a tribute for 2014. If both Fred and Murf were still living, they each would have turned 100 Years old in 2014. Summer Thunder 2014 was a tribute to them and their 100th birthdays.