Save Fairyland! is a local effort of concerned Tampa Natives and friends who are working to retrieve, restore and relocate the beloved storybook characters of Fairyland.
Recently “discovered” in a City of Tampa backlot, the figures were removed from Lowry Park circa 1996, have been left to the elements and are in pretty rough shape. We approached the City to take possession of the figures to restore them to their original glory and relocate for the enjoyment of future generations.
However, the City has decided to sell the figurines in an auction to be held in January. Our goal is to purchase the figures and rescue them!
JOIN US in this fight to SAVE FAIRYLAND! Share this website with other Tampa Natives and friends who cherish the memories of Fairyland and want to see them all returned to our community in a way that results in a “happily ever after!”
We will refurbish and relocate them here in Tampa for the children of our community to enjoy. THAT WAS THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE. THAT IS NOW OUR MISSION!
The Fairyland History
Fairyland park was drawn from the dreams and hopes of childhood. Peter Pan lived again as life-sized pixies drifted through trees over a landscaped path winding through the 15 acres of the park. Live mice helped complete the restoration of the familiar “Hickory Dickory Dock.” One could see the Little Old Lady living in a shoe that was 20 feet high. Humpty Dumpty was perched on the castle wall and all the King’s men were standing by as he teetered on the edge. Across the lane was the home of the Little Red Hen and nearby, the Three Men in a Tub…the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker…floating in a sea filled with goldfish. Live wooly lambs frolicked in the yard in front of Mary’s Little Red Schoolhouse. Peter Rabbit lived with his family in a stump under toadstools four feet high while Little Miss Muffet watched from her tuffet as a big spider tried to frighten her away.
On the drawbridge to the Castle, Goosey Gander stood guard while Rapunzel leaned out, hoping to be rescued. Enchanted youngsters could even stand in the mouth of Willie the Whale as they watched the antics of tropical fish. The efforts of the Three Little Pigs and their huff-puffing nemesis were there. Melodies of the nursery rhymes and other children’s music were heard in all parts of the park through hidden speakers.
Fairyland was widely acclaimed as one of the nation’s finest free fantasyland amusement areas.
In the beginning, Lowry Park was little more than 100 or so acres of picnic grounds. In 1918, Tampa City Commissioner Dr. Sumter L. Lowry (Sr.) urged the city of Tampa to buy land north of Sligh Avenue at North Blvd and dedicate it for use as a public park. Around 1925, after years of hard work, it became a reality, and the park was later named in Lowry’s honor, due to his efforts.
Tampa’s zoo began around 1937 as an animal shelter in Plant Park on the banks of the Hillsborough River near downtown. It was started by city employees and originally consisted of a small collection of indigenous animals such as raccoons, alligators and an aviary with a variety of exotic birds.
Lowry Park remained relatively unchanged from its beginning as a picnic area in the 1930s until the mid-1950s when it was decided to build a children’s storybook section consisting of characters from well-known fairy tales with excerpts from the story to be used as markers for each scene.
The building of Lowry Park as an amusement park/tourist attraction was an amazing story because it was built so inexpensively, even for its day — it cost $60,000. Mayor Nuccio said it could easily have cost the city double that amount had a private company been contracted for the job. He engineered the project himself. The park became his baby, and he made certain it would succeed. Nuccio got the idea while he was visiting in New Orleans, where he was impressed with a similar attraction. When he returned to Tampa, he started the wheels turning.
No city funds were ever budgeted for the project; every effort was made to keep expenses down. Parks Department labor did the construction work. During the summer, college students helped. The park superintendent, B. B. Bradley, did the landscaping. It saved an architect’s fee. Nuccio hired ONE carpenter. Scrap metal was bought from the West Coast Salvage Company for 8 cents per 50 pounds according to Jack Ryan, the construction supervisor for the project. Eighty percent of the cages were built with the scrap metal. Salvage bricks were obtained from public works projects.
Work began on Fairyland in 1957, with its landmark entrance, the Rainbow Bridge. That alone would have cost the city $5,500 but Cone Brothers Construction Co. did it for nothing. Fairyland was completed by November 1958.
There’s more history and photos of other attractions at Lowry Park at www.tampapix.com/zoo_old.htm.