The historic Sandy Beach Bridge, a centerpiece for thousands of people’s childhood in the Miami Valley, will have its grand reopening today after more than 30 years of sitting vacant.
The grand opening will start at 5 p.m.
“People love history, memories and fun times in their lives, and I think this will bring people back who haven’t been to the lake in 40 or 50 years,” Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce President Pam Miller said.
“It is special to us because we are lifetime Indian Lake residents,” project organizer and Spend-A-Day Marina owner Jim Reed said. “We enjoyed the amusement park when we were little kids.”
The bridge was built in the 1920s and connected the two sides of an amusement park that was a focal point for activities at the lake.
The amusement park used to be known as “Ohio’s Million Dollar Playground.”
Reed said the park used to host international dance and music competitions as well as large social outings.
“A lot of people in my generation were born out of relationships that were developed during the years it was a huge part of the region,” he said.
Reed said he had lots of great memories as a child going to the park, but as he got older it started to decline and was even closed some years.
The bridge was a focal point for protests against the Vietnam War and was shut down around 1968.
The amusement park’s land and bridge were eventually sold to Reed’s father, Bill Reed, in 1981.
Bill Reed developed the land into condominiums and retail space, but always left the bridge untouched.
His son said he always wanted to open it back up, but was unable to because of cost and liability issues.
Bill Reed died five years ago and the money from his memorial was set aside to start raising funds for the bridge’s revitalization.
“We suggested memorial contributions go to a special fund, and that is when we started researching possibilities,” Jim Reed said. “It was something he always wanted to do.”
Jim Reed and his family then donated the land to the Indian Lake Area Historical Society to get more people involved in the project.
So far, the group has raised more than $300,000 for the bridge. The restoration of the bridge cost $250,000 and the rest of the money will go toward future plans for the area.
Reed wants to add historical markers around the area as well.
“We are hoping to put markers around walkways that highlight beginnings of Indian Lake, and the amusement park and the people that help build Indian Lake throughout the years,” Jim Reed said.
As part of the 5 p.m. grand opening, there will be a chicken dinner with music and a 45-minute dedication service starting at 6. There will also be cotton candy, funnel cakes and other food that might have been served at the amusement park decades ago.
The rain date is Sunday, starting at the same time.