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What happened to the fire truck in City Park's Storyland? 

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All

click to enlarge The fire truck once parked in Storyland has been removed for safety reasons.

Photo Courtesy of New Orleans City Park

The fire truck once parked in Storyland has been removed for safety reasons.

Hey Blake,

I took my family to Celebration in the Oaks in City Park. As we walked past Storyland we noticed that the old fire engine was gone. Do you know what's happened? I'm hoping they will put a new engine there, as the truck is a favorite of my 7-year-old.

Glenn Grass

Dear Glenn,

  Generations of New Orleanians have wonderful memories of City Park's Storyland, including the fire truck. I've tracked down the answer to your question, which may not please your 7-year-old.

  As we do every week, let's start with a little history. City Park's Storyland area opened Dec. 30, 1956. The original design and construction cost about $50,000, most of which was donated by businessman and Pontchartrain Beach owner Harry Batt Sr. in honor of his parents. One of Batt's grandchildren, 4-year-old Barbara (cousin to actor Bryan Batt and businessman Jay Batt, who also served on the New Orleans City Council), cut the ribbon to open the park. In the next day's Times-Picayune, City Park manager Ellis Laborde put opening day attendance at 13,000 people.

  Some of the 13 original attractions highlighted nursery rhymes and stories such as The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, The Three Little Pigs, Little Miss Muffet, Pinocchio, Humpty Dumpty and, of course, Mother Goose. There were even live animals in some of the displays, including three small pigs, several geese and Mary's little lamb.

  As for the fire engine, I've been unable to find any specifics about when it first appeared, but I did find a mention of it in a 1970 article in The Times-Picayune. The next year, Storyland (not including the fire engine) was refurbished at a cost of $10,000, with much of the work done by Blaine Kern Artists. In 1985, after a decade or so of wear and tear on the first fire truck, a second one was donated to City Park. In 2001, another fire truck was installed after lots of bureaucratic and legal wrangling by the city. The truck was removed last year because it had become unsafe, according to a park spokesman. City Park has plans to build a house for birthday parties in the spot where the fire truck was located.

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