Landmark ‘Giant Slide’ at Mammoth Park to close for renovations
Time is slip, slidin’ away for thrill-seekers wanting one last ride on the original “Giant Slide” at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant Township that has excited young and old riders alike for more than 45 years.
The Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation announced the 96-foot-long slide, a landmark that attracts thousands of visitors annually to the remote 408-acre park since it opened there on Memorial Day in 1973, will officially close Oct. 31 for a major overhaul.
The slide will reopen Nov. 4 for a Last Ride fundraiser to help raise money for the $1 million in improvements planned for the park next year, said Malcolm Sias, county parks director. Sias said the renovation includes a Giant Slide Complex, comprising either two or three slides, including a dual race, depending on funding availability.
It will include a new playground between Pavilions 5 and 6; renovations of the tennis courts and street hockey center; and a new 9-hole disc golf course.
“Everywhere I’ve gone recently, people approach me upset, saying they heard we we’re going to close the Giant Slide, but I try to explain we’re going to replace it with a giant slide park complex with multiple slides. Everywhere you go, someone always seems to have a story about the Giant Slide,” Sias said.
“Geez, I’m 62 years old and I remember riding it a long time ago. We’re excited about what we have planned there,” he said.
One slide fan still making memories recently was 13-year-old Tyler Shaffer of Monroeville, who was getting her last runs on the slide before starting the eighth grade at East Catholic School in Forest Hills. She had not heard that the original slide will officially close Oct. 31.
“Oh man, that’s really sad. I’ve been coming here since I was zero,” she said.
Shaffer was completely truthful when discussing her lifelong enjoyment of the slide, according to her grandparents, Dana and Walter Shaffer, both of Churchill. The couple chuckled at their granddaughter’s remarks.
“This is such a beautiful park, and we’re both birders and have always come out to the Mammoth Park Lake to enjoy our hobby,” Walter Shaffer said. “So, once we learned about the slide, and we had a grandchild about 13 years ago, we brought her along with us, and she used to sit in our laps to go down the slide.”
Sandy Bralick of Vista, in Southern California, also was enjoying the slide with her grandchildren, Kali, 8, Aiden, 5, and Owen, 3, and her daughter-in-law, Natasha Bralick, all of Greensburg.
“I’ve been here before when I visited ... it’s beautiful and the kids just love it,” Bralick said.
On prior trips to Mammoth, Sandy Bralick admitted being “just a little too scared” to take the plunge herself. That changed last week when she joined her grandkids on a ride down the slide.
“This is really good, old-fashion fun. Look here ... all the kids are outdoors, enjoying an activity and not on a computer or talking on a cellphone,” she said. “As long as they replace it ... that’s good.”
Sias said the $1 million park project is approximately $250,000 short of its total funding goal. The county received a $292,000 state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant; $180,000 from the county’s hotel tax this year, money from a recent county bond issue, and public and private donations.
“But we are hoping to have funding so we can finish the slide project. Those two, big stainless steel racing slides that we want to get are each 100 feet long and cost $150,000 each,” Sias said.
A planned third slide is approximately 50 feet long, and there will also be improved handicap accessibility, improved spectator areas and “a cargo net climbing feature for the kids,” said park manager Josh Miller.
Sias said park officials want the complex to be as fun “going up to the slide entrance as it is coming down.”
A 50-foot plastic slide with a cargo net to climb back to the top will be installed for children. A natural sandstone rock-boulder climbing path will lead a short route to the longer slides, adding “fun and exercise to the trip back to the top,” said Lauren Jones, parks communications coordinator.
“Racing slide riders can also access the cargo net for the second half of their climb if they desire,” she added.
However, whether officials go with the three-slide plan or the two-slide proposal depends on money.
“We really want to do the full project,” Sias said.
In addition to the Last Ride on Nov. 4, a portion of the proceeds from the annual March for Parks program, set for March 30, will be dedicated for the slide project.
“We’re really hoping the grassroots donations will help close the gap and help us build the new Giant Slide,” Sias said.
Contributions may be made to the Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation Bureau in care of the March for Parks or Giant Slide at 194 Donohoe Road, Greensburg, PA 15601.