Socialist Park in Sinking Spring

Socialist Park, now known as Willow Glen Park, was created in 1929, under socialist Reading Mayor, J. Henry Stump. In it’s heyday, it boasted a dance hall, and a roller-skating rink.  Today, the park hosts large local events, including the Apple Dumpling Festival in June, Berks Celtic Fest in July, and Shocktoberfest, a halloween scare attraction September through October.

Socialist Park Sinking Spring
Picture Courtesy of the Passing Scene

Birch Wilson at the Dance Hall at Socialist Park…aka Keller’s Park and Willow Glen Park…West end of Sinking Spring…South Side of Route 422 West and Park Avenue…on the border of Sinking Spring Borough and Spring Township:
The Depression that followed J. Henry Stump’s first term as Reading’s mayor, beginning in 1928, gave the party the boost that it was enjoying as it acquired the park in 1929; the momentum kept the movement going into the 1930s. Except for Stump, the last of the Socialists went out of local office in 1940, numerically lost the privilege of automatic inclusion on Berks County ballots in 1952, regained it and then lost it again in the mid-1950s. Now, Wilson guesses, the local party membership is again back down to around 50.
– Photo taken in 1963 by Walter A. Romanski, couresty of Ronald B. Romanski.

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

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Nanette B Merrill
Nanette B Merrill
4 years ago

I skated there

Bob
Bob
4 years ago

I spent many happy hours there at both the roller rink and at the annual Sacred Heart parish picnic.

Kathy
Kathy
4 years ago

I skated there for a few years. Always great music and lots of fun!

Christopher
Christopher
4 years ago

As a kid I played in the creek and ran around the park and their surrounding Woods… I also skated there almost every weekend for 20-plus years of my life! I called the skating rink my home away from home. More great childhood and teenage memories than from all other childhood Hangouts combined!… I would do anything to strap on the quads and put in a three-hour session again!

DBowers
DBowers
4 years ago

was on the speed team when I was real young ozzy in the skate room Kenny the owner dam near lived at that rink

Vee Pettigrew
Vee Pettigrew
4 years ago
Reply to  DBowers

Doug Bowers, I remember you. Vee Pettigrew

GGuido
GGuido
4 years ago

We used to go there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Anybody remember the all.nighters. Hd alot of fun there. I remember Ozzy and Kenny.

John Butzer
John Butzer
4 years ago

In the fifties when doc yoder ran the rink we had a circus, 17 of us wearing our skates piled into the crosley station. I was on the race team and danced with two different girls in competition from pa to Michigan.

Sarah Jewett
Sarah Jewett
11 months ago
Reply to  John Butzer

I was on the race team and figure skating team in the late 50’s early 60’s under doc Yoder.

Bob Yoder
Bob Yoder
3 months ago
Reply to  John Butzer

I too was on the race team. Only 9 or 10 yrs old and enjoyed every minute of it. Does anyone remember Gene Lyons?

patricia schell
patricia schell
21 days ago
Reply to  John Butzer

Just looked up Socialist Park/Sinking Spring Skating Rink. Saw your name in the comments. Please get in touch with me. Pat Wentzel…now Schell. [email protected]. Would love to chat with you. I am living in Hudson, Florida since 2007.

Anthony Carabello
Anthony Carabello
4 years ago

Wonderful memories! I was speed skater back in the day. Saw Tommy James and the Shondels there. RIP Jimmy Pennypacker.

Wanda Schooner
Wanda Schooner
3 years ago

This place was the best part of my childhood, every Friday Saturday and Sunday. Sitting here reading I see r.i.p.jimmy pennypacker.and I think wow I knew him. And wounded what happened. I left pa. A long time ago but wounded what happened to everyone I speed skated with. My name was Wanda emerich.back then. I wish my kids and grandkids kids had a place like this to enjoy but from what I can tell no body roller skates anymore. I miss it.

Susan E. Shaffer
Susan E. Shaffer
2 years ago
Reply to  Wanda Schooner

Hi, I posted earlier on FB if anyone has a pic or remembered a chimpanzee skating there. Please post. Thank you Susan Shaffer.

Ginger
Ginger
7 months ago
Reply to  Wanda Schooner

I went out with jimmy pennypacker r.I.p. we went to the7th grade prom together.

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[…] Apple Dumpling Festival relocated to Willow Glen Park (first known as Socialist Park) the following summer, without skipping a beat. One of the problems at Owls Grove was parking, […]

Noble Werner
Noble Werner
2 years ago

Susan, I don’t know if she ever skated at this park, but Reading did have a skating chimp by 1949 (the earliest mention of her that I found from a quick search). It’s entirely possible that she did skate there – I just haven’t found anything specifically mentioning it.

Here are some clippings I found mentioning her. I don’t know where the card in the middle is from, but the two ads on the right are Billboard (Jan 1949 and Feb 1950 respectively), as is the obituary for Walter Dehoman (Feb 1960). The small article about Bingo’s death was from the Daily News in New York (Sep 1955).
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Kathy Homan Fossen
Kathy Homan Fossen
3 months ago
Reply to  Noble Werner

Noble Werner,
Walter DeHoman was my grandfather! I just came across these comments in trying to find any information about him..what a pleasant surprise! I remember this chimp. My grandfather and Bingo visited us in WI for a summer.. What great memories! I recall the sad incident with the fire siren. Also, to see my grandfather’s obituary brought tears. I remember being in Reading for that funeral. What a strange and interesting life my grandfather had! Thanks for the memories!
Kathy

Kathy Homan Fossen
Kathy Homan Fossen
3 months ago
Reply to  Noble Werner

Kathy Homan Fossen

Reply to Noble Werner
Noble Werner,
Walter DeHoman was my grandfather! I just came across these comments in trying to find any information about him..what a pleasant surprise! I remember this chimp. My grandfather and Bingo visited us in WI for a summer.. What great memories! I recall the sad incident with the fire siren. Also, to see my grandfather’s obituary brought tears. I remember being in Reading for that funeral. What a strange and interesting life my grandfather had! Thanks for the memories!
Kathy

Paul Hoffman
Paul Hoffman
3 months ago

The rink was unique because it had support posts on the floor, in an oval. This created a narrow track on the outside, which was used for speed skating. The open oval on the inside was for everyone else. There were also benches along the outside of the open inside oval. I loved the track. It was fun to be able to go fast unhindered. It was precarious, though, because people had to cross the track to get to and from the oval and the concession/skate return area. I didn’t go there much, but loved it when I did get to go. When I was a kid in the late 70’s/early 80’s it was already getting a bit run down compared to the rink in Shillington.

When was it torn down?

Berks Nostalgia