An Oregon man who grew up down the street from Coloma’s Deer Forest is starting a campaign to reopen the outdoor attraction that’s been closed for the past six years.
16 News Now reporter Jack Springgate spoke to 36-year-old Blair Struble and tells us why he’s working to purchase, restore, and reopen the gates to Deer Forest.
Struble and many others who have distinct memories of this place will tell you Deer Forest didn’t always look like the overgrown ruin it does now.
He said it’s his mission to bring back the former animal theme park so families can make new memories at the place he said put Coloma, Michigan on the map.
“Deer Forest is a huge part of Coloma. It was a huge part of my childhood and thousands of other people’s childhoods,” Struble said.
The park’s old attractions now look like ghosts of their former selves.
It was only after seeing Deer Forest’s current condition that Struble said he needed to step in.
“Having the whole park, and that nostalgic feeling of the park that so many people remember is what I really want to accomplish in all this,” he said.
Struble is in the process of creating a non-profit to purchase the property and then get to work on restoration.
Except for housing exotic animals, Struble said he plans on making it look like it did when Deer Forest first opened in 1949.
“It’s Deer Forest so you got to have the deer and we’d like to have an array of farm animals. There was Storybook Lane which you could use ‘Trunkey’ the elephant key to turn on these voice boxes that would give you Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, or Jack and Jill, or you know–there were so many of them. Knowing that I can do this and that I can bring this back not only for the community but the entire part of Michigan and the surrounding area, it would be really amazing,” he said.
Sparking memories of family, fun, and nostalgia for those who had a chance to visit Deer Forest when it was still open, myself included while giving a new generation a chance to create memories of their own.
To learn more about Struble’s mission by visiting his website deerforest.org.
He’s looking to raise roughly $1 million to purchase, restore, and reopen the park. You can find his fundraising page here.