COLOMA, MI - Oh, the memories. What was once a bustling theme park is now a ghost of its old self and is on the auction block. Gone are the rides. Gone are the animals. What remains are subtle reminders of many fond memories.
Deer Forest Fun Park opened to visitors in 1949 and was a place a lot of Michigan families went for a fun-filled day of activities for many decades. Many school kids also looked forward to field trips there. Now, it’s abandoned and will go to the highest bidder via auction.
The land where the theme park used to be is located at 6800 Indian Lane in Coloma, about 45 minutes west of Kalamazoo. All 25 acres are up for auction and include numerous buildings still standing, which you can see in the photo gallery above, including the train station, a log cabin and Mother Hubbard’s Gift Shop.
“The zoning will allow someone to do whatever they want to do with it,” Rick Levin of Rick Levin & Associates told MLive. “It’s well-located and the property is surrounded by houses. Perhaps residential might make sense for whomever buys it. I don’t know if the best use is a zoo and fun park anymore, but we’ve had a lot of people calling with their fond memories of going here.”
Rachel Edwards has lived in Coloma her entire life and is saddened at what Deer Forest looks like now. She went there many times over the years.
“I used to go there as a kid with my two sisters and we also went there on school field trips,” Edwards told MLive. “I remember walking down Storybook Lane and taking the train ride. There was also a little red house which was Santa’s Summer Village. You’d go inside and imagine it was where Santa went in the summer for vacation. There was even a sleigh you could sit in.”
There were also rides and a petting zoo, Edwards recalls.
“There was a section of the park which had a nice playground. I also remember going on the old-fashioned Ferris wheel and other rides like a scrambler. You could get deer food and go into the deer pen and feed them. There were also rabbit cages and I remember there was a stage near there where they’d have different performers like someone playing a banjo. We’d just sit and watch.”
Edwards says even though it would be a tall task, she would love to see the fun park restored to its old glory.
“I know it would take a lot of work, but I would love for whomever buys it to reopen it. I actually live down the road from it now. I always dreamed one day I’d live within walking distance from it and now it’s closed.”
You can check out all of the info on the auction here. You can also contact Rick Levin & Associates at 312-440-2000 or via email. The suggested opening bid for the property is $450,000. The auction deadline is Oct. 14.
“It is sitting there dormant and it’s a shame,” added Levin. “For the community, you don’t want cool, historic properties like this to just sit dormant long-term. We’re hoping to find an entrepreneur who will come in and do something positive here.”