Lifelong Love Affair

MAPLE SPRINGS – Despite not opening for another month, Midway was buzzing with activity Saturday morning.

More than 40 volunteers arrived bright and early at Midway State Park to help paint fences, rake yard scraps, clean up garbage, and generally tidy up the park – all as a part of I Love My Park Day.

“All this is such a great help to us, just because we have so many projects going on right now,” said John Melcher, head of maintenance at Midway State Park. “We’re doing a lot of refurbishing the rides, which is taking so much of our time. Right now they’re painting fences and cleaning up the yard and picking up garbage that has been blowing around, which gives us so much more time to prepare for the opening. It really helps the park look clean and look good, and we appreciate the help so very much.”

Most volunteers arrived at the park at 9 a.m. with their own paint brushes and yard tools, and continued to work on the park until 1 p.m. Volunteers of all ages arrived to help out, with one family bringing three generations with them to take part.

Although I Love My Park Day has only been an annual tradition for two years, the Lanz family of Mayville has made it a habit to help out the park that they love. All together, John and Elizabeth Lanz arrived with their son and step-daughter, Jennifer and Graham Lanz, who arrived with their daughters, Cora and Adelaide Lanz. Cora and Adelaide are 5 and 2 years old, respectively.

“It’s so nice to have an amusement park that is old-fashioned,” said Elizabeth. “We used to bring Graham here when he was a child, so now it’s great to be able to come here with our grandchildren. We want to make sure this park will always be as nice for the next generation as it was for ours. It means a lot to us.”

And though John and Elizabeth live in Mayville, the other members of the Lanz family now live in Cleveland, Ohio. They made the trip back to Chautauqua on Friday so they could participate in I Love My Park Day on Saturday. Despite being the youngest, the Lanz family conceded that Cora and Adelaide were undeniably the hardest workers of the day.

“We’re getting all the (dirt) off of the fence,” said Cora.

I Love My Park Day took place across many state parks throughout the state. It is becoming an annual state tradition which will likely continue as long as there are state parks to help maintain. For more information on I Love My Park Day, or on how to volunteer for the event next year, visit

“It’s just a lot of good clean fun,” said John. “We’re doing good for the park, and it’s a great way to spend time with your family.”

“We believe so much in historic preservation,” added Elizabeth. “To see the pride the little ones take in fixing up the park and helping to get it ready for the season too is reward enough. We buy them a season pass for Christmas for when they come back, so they have the opportunity to see that all their hard work is appreciated. They love knowing that they’ve helped Midway.”