Opening in 1893, Gwynn Oak Park was a privately owned amusement park just outside the northwest corner of Baltimore, Maryland. The park closed in 1973 after facing the ‘perfect storm’ of bad publicity, bad finances, and Hurricane Agnes. The owners desire not to integrate led to a July 4, 1963 confrontation when nearly 400 people marched on the park to protest the “whites only” policy; this event is ‘memorialized’ in John Waters’ film Hairspray (the “Tilted Acres” scene; which was shot at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania). The park would remain segregated until August 28, 1963. In 1974 its rides were auctioned off. The carousel was moved, and is still in operation on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The Dixie Ballroom was the dance hall located within Gwynn Oak Park. During its heyday, the big bands, such as Goodman, Dorsey, Miller, Kenton, and Shaw, were mainstay regulars. As the poem speaks, the big bands left the stage and local groups took over. By 1971, Dinky Dollar Night was a big draw. The Dixie Ballroom was one of the last buildings of the park used for entertainment, and it burned down on Feb. 22, 1975.