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Gepetto (sic), Fairyland, and Oakland’s Lost Italian Americans

Laura E. Ruberto (May 03, 2008)
Gepetto's been building Pinocchio for over 40 years in Oakland's Fairyland.


Children's Fairyland, an amusement park for preschool-age kids, sits on the edge of Oakland’s Lake Merritt, an artificial lake created in 1867 in the city’s downtown area. The park, with its child-sized diorama-like sets, celebrates fairytales and nursery rhymes. It opened in 1950 and still draws the juice-swilling masses today. Restoration of the park started (and is still going on) in the mid-1990s, but the place still feels pretty Old School. There’s a threadbare retro feel to the spot, made stronger by the heavily-pierced and tattooed teenagers who now work the concession stands and, dripping with irony, run the Jolly Trolly.

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