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Freedomland fans want the amusement park commemorated in new Bay Plaza mall

Bronx Times

The Bronx as a Civil War hotspot?

It was - briefly - in the early 1960s when there was a Civil War battle ride and exhibit at the history-themed Freedomland on the site of what is now Co-op City and the Bay Plaza Shopping mall.

The Freedomland exhibit on the Civil War included a Civil War Museum, non-animated soldiers maintained by the actor and comedian Charley Weaver, and an exhibit where park visitors rode in a correspondents wagon under a flag of truce past statues of the “battling armies.”

Now as the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War is here, Freedomland-buff Mike Virgintino, who grew up outside what is now Co-op City, is requesting that the developer of the Mall at Bay Plaza, a new indoor shopping center being built on the last vacant piece of land where Freedomland was located, remember the exhibit and the park in some fashion.

The Mall at Bay Plaza will link together the existing JC Penney’s with a newly constructed Macy’s location and a number of stores.

“We have been in touch with Macy’s over the past six months or so,” said Virgintino, adding that once the mall is built, he and other Freedomland enthusiasts would like to see Freedomland commemorated in some way at the Mall.

The remembrance could include photographs of the park in the mall or some kind of marker remembering Freedomland, said Virgintino.

Freedomland was in operation from 1961 to 1964. Designed in the shape of the continental United States, the park showcased American history with seven themed areas.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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