50 Years of Photos

The News Item 7/5/2012
by Mark Gilger


ELYSBURG - Many traditions have been commemorated at Knoebels Amusement Resort over the years, but few can match the uniqueness of LeeAnne Ardan Kaminski getting her picture taken in Playland for 50 consecutive years.

On Wednesday, Kaminski, who grew up in Shamokin, returned to the park where she worked for seven years as a waitress to pose for a series of snapshots with family members in the automatic photo machine that has been a mainstay at Playland since 1962.

Kaminski, a daughter of Juls and Esther Ardan, of Elysburg, started the tradition in July 1963 when her mother took her to Knoebels to have her first panel of four photos taken in the machine where thousands of park visitors have smiled, laughed, cried and looked serious over the years.

"It's a tradition I always enjoy and will continue as long as possible," commented Kaminski, who will turn 50 on Oct. 4. "I'm very superstitious and believe something will go wrong if I don't get these pictures taken every year around the Fourth of July."

The Exton resident, who is a 1980 graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School, was nine months old when she had her first photos taken for 25 cents. The snapshots, which only take a few minutes to process, now cost $2 for a series. Kaminski said the photos taken by the machine have maintained their quality over five decades. In addition to the original photos, Kaminski also has made copies that are stored in her home.

Kaminski thanked her parents and the very accommodating staff at Playland for allowing her to continue her unique tradition.

Mrs. Ardan stated, "I'm glad we've been able to do it all these years. I started it because I wanted LeeAnne to have some memorable photos from the park when she was an infant. It's basically a yearly photo record of her growth from child to teen to adulthood to motherhood. It was something special I wanted to do and it has continued for 50 years. That's pretty unique."

Family tradition

Playland has been operated at the park by members of the Kadel family since 1947. Felix and Jane Kadel, who initially opened a penny arcade across from the swimming pool at the park in 1938, were the original owners of Playland. Their two sons, Rick and Frank Kadel, have managed the game-filled facility for the past 30 years.

"We're glad LeeAnne and her family continue the tradition every year of getting their photos taken here," Rick Kadel stated Wednesday. "They are a very nice family."

Kadel said it's getting more difficult to obtain parts for the antiquated photo machine, which has undergone changes in film processing over the years. But he noted his family plans to maintain the popular machine as long as possible.

"The Kadels are great people just like the entire Knoebel family," Kaminski said. "I practically grew up here. My mother's brother had a cottage at the park and I worked as a waitress for seven years at the Alamo Restaurant. I remember going swimming, dancing and roller skating. Knoebels is the greatest park in the world. I've met so many people here through the years going back to high school. It was the best of times. I always look forward to coming back, not only for the photos, but for the great atmosphere of the park."

While her parents started the tradition to create a keepsake of memories for their only child, Kaminski has continued it with her own family, which includes her husband, Marino Kaminski, and their two children, Paige, 21, and Adam, 19.

The entire family had their photos taken once again Wednesday to add to the long list of snapshots.

LeeAnne Kaminski is a quality analyst for SuiteLinq in Exton, which provides various technology in hotels and suites. Her husband is a nuclear manager at Exelon, an energy company in Kennett Square. He is a graduate of Mount Carmel Area High School and is a son of Maria Kaminski, of Mount Carmel, and the late Joseph Kaminski.

Their daughter is a senior at Penn State University, where she is majoring in communications, sciences and disorders with an emphasis on speech therapy. She also plays and officiates soccer.

Their son is a sophomore at Dickinson College, where he majors in biochemistry and is the kicker on the football team.

Contributed by Missy Mazzaferro