My name is Blair Struble and I’m a 36yr old who grew up about a mile from Deer Forest in Coloma, Michigan! I have many fond memories as a child going to Deer Forest on field trips with Washington Elementary School, or just on a day trip with my family! Santa’s Summer House was always my favorite part of the park!
Recently, my Mother sent me a link that read ‘Deer Forest Closes’ and immediately my heart sank! This can’t be! Deer Forest is what put Coloma on the map! It brought thousands of visitors to the area every summer and I can’t imagine it no longer being there!
After all, the sign going into Coloma used to read “Welcome to Coloma, Home of Deer Forest!” This place was a magical wonderland!
After doing quite a bit of research on Deer Forest and its previous owners, it was clear to me that that park wasn’t properly taken care of and eventually fell into disrepair. It was upsetting to me to see that all of the memories as a child that were made at Deer Forest are now under fallen maple trees and weeds. Story Book Lane is unrecognizable, and Santa’s Summer House simply looks like an old run down log cabin. The Fallow deer are gone, along with the peacocks, llamas and so many more beautiful animals.
After seeing the park in person, I knew I had to contact the realtor who listed the property! Immediately, I scheduled a viewing to do a walk-through of the property with my Sister and Brother-in-law along with the realtors! It was nostalgic, sad, heart breaking and exciting all at the same time. To most people, all you would see is an old run down ‘spooky’ amusement park. To me, I saw every bit of potential this place has to be brought back to its wonderful glory days!
I would love the opportunity to turn Deer Forest back into the magical park that it once was! Saving as much as the original structures, decorations and character pieces as possible! Having the Fallow deer at the park is what a lot of the people came to see, and I would love to see a new heard on the property!
My vision for the park is to keep the front area as original as possible! With a small ‘museum like’ area where photos and props from the original Deer Forest would be displayed and people could share their stories of visiting as a child! Restoring Story Book Lane and making Santa’s Summer House a magical Christmas wonderland is a must!! Even installing another train to take visitors on a ride around the park! The rear of the property would make a beautiful setting for destination weddings and private events such as corporate parties / family reunions etc.! Adding a couple pavilions and a picnic area would be ideal! Maybe even a mock chapel for wedding photoshoots! I would restore the Deer Forest sign back to its original design that was displayed in the early 1950’s keeping the nostalgic feel that so many of us remember! During the month of October, there would be hay rides, pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts! During November and December, the park would be turned into The Christmas Village at Deer Forest! With thousands of lights, animated Harold Gale Santa displays, Nativity scenes and so, so much more!
I understand that this is going to take a lot of work! A LOT! However, given the opportunity, I would happily tackle it and do what it takes to bring this vision to life! My heart is all in! The only thing that is missing are the funds to make this happen! That’s where you come in! With your help and donations I would not only be able to purchase the property, but also bring each building and structure up to code! As you can imagine, its been sitting there for quite awhile. All of the roofing needs to be repaired, buildings need to be repaired, fences need to be repaired. Plumbing repairs, bathroom additions, drainage repairs. I could go on and on! Once repairs have been made, I would then do a major advertisement campaign, website and bring in a new herd of Fallow deer. Repairing or adding vintage amusement rides. Clean up of dead fall and overgrowth etc.
With your help, I really do think that Deer Forest could be a magical place again! Without your help, I’m afraid it will be bought by investors and leveled for new homes, a campground or condos. It would mean the world to me and my family if you would not only donate, but spread the word about what we are trying to do! The world needs more ‘happy’ right now, and I believe together we can make Coloma that happy little place again!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about where the funds will be allocated! I also have quite a few photos in the parks current state if you would like to see them. Please know, I am in no way a ‘business man.’ This is a first for me! I am open to any suggestions, ideas or advice!
Blair M. Struble