OCEAN CITY – Family, friends and loyal customers of the 65th
Street Slide N’ Ride will say goodbye to the town’s oldest waterslide this
month, as the water park prepares to close its doors for good.
After 36 years, the
Slide N’ Ride will close down for the last time, leaving just one more month of
sliding fun at the midtown park.
“This is the oldest
slide in the State of Maryland,
it was built 36 years ago,” said owner Mike Wicklein this week.
Thirty-six years ago,
the familiar blue water slide was built in the resort, providing families with
another entertainment option for fun in the sun.
Twenty-one years ago,
Wicklein took the reigns, purchasing the business with his sister. After one year,
Wicklein bought out his sister and embarked on 21 years of “slides and smiles.”
“After 21 years of
slides and smiles though, I decided not to renew my lease this year,” said
Wicklein, noting that while he will greatly miss the friendly faces and sounds
of the park, he is looking forward to the chance to travel the world. “It’s
been 21 years so it’s time for something new.”
While Wicklein will not
be retiring or leaving town, he will be spending his time traveling, relaxing
and, of course, enjoying a much-needed summer vacation next year.
”I will take my first summer vacation next year, my first one in 21 years,” he
said, adding, “I just felt it was time for me to do some things that I’ve
always wanted to do.”
Wicklein maintained that
he would miss working with his employees the most, some of whom have been with
him for many years.
“I have been extremely
fortunate over the years to have a great group of people to work with,” said
Wicklein, listing the many loyal employees who have contributed over the years.
“There’s really too many people too name, so many have meant so much to me.”
Foreign student workers
have also played a role in the amusement park added Wicklein. “They’ve been a
real asset to me over the years. They come in at the perfect time, they leave
at the perfect time, they have great work ethic and they just do a fantastic
job,” he said.
Wicklein will also miss
the interaction with customers. Many customers have been visiting the Slide N’
Ride for years, coming in as children and now returning with their own
children. “They came in as kids and now they’re coming back with their own
children, I will miss that,” said Wicklein.
As Wicklein is not the
landowner of the land beneath the slides, he is unsure of what will become of
“I do not know what’s
going to happen here, the owners have yet to determine that. There is a
possibility that this could re-open as an amusement center but as of today
there are no plans or anything in the planning stages,” he said.
Wicklein will be selling
all of the inventory however, adding that all of the supplies, tools and so
forth will be on the Slide N’ Ride website for purchase.
“This has been a great
place, I know there will be a lot of people who will ride up here next year,
wondering where it went,” said Wicklein, who has kept the news of his plans to
close fairly quiet. “There’s quite a few locals that were aware of it, but
we’ve pretty much kept it hush, hush.”
While there are no plans
for the property, Wicklein remains hopeful that a new operator will step in and
carry on the slide legacy at 65th Street.
“There are a lot of
locals that have worked here over the years, probably all the local folks have
slid down these slides,” he said.
While Wicklein has been
the owner and operator for the past 21 years, the business has remained a
family business, with both sisters working at some point and a slide named
after his daughter, Katie.
While there are no plans
for a closing party or farewell bash, Wicklein will be ending the season with
two worthy causes.
“As a fitting way to end
our run here, we’re going to finish off the season with two fundraisers,” he
On Saturday, customers
will help raise money for the Community Church of Ocean Pines. On Sunday, all
proceeds will be dedicated to the Ocean City Lions Club.
While Wicklein is
looking forward to embarking on his new adventures, he will surely miss the
business that has been a part of his life for the past two decades, noting that
he will miss everything from the people to the familiar sounds.
“I’ll miss coming in and
hearing the sounds of children laughing all day,” he said.