Dozens become first to ever ride “Big Wheel,” largest Ferris wheel in state, at Bay Beach



Tuesday night, dozens of Northeast Wisconsinites became the first to ever ride the Big Wheel at Bay Beach Amusement Park – the largest Ferris wheel in Wisconsin at 100 feet tall.

While the new ride doesn’t officially open to the public until July 4th, people were able to experience it Tuesday night as part of a fundraiser event. For $50, riders got a trip on the Ferris wheel, a commemorative t-shirt, a special “first rider” ticket, and food. The Friends of Bay Beach will use proceeds from the event to make purchases and renovations to the park.

The Big Wheel appeared to be a hit with riders.

“It was fantastic, it filled me with joy and jubilation,” said Tom Blaney of Green Bay.

Wendy Willems of Green Bay saw her grandson Tristan, who has cerebral palsy, ride the Big Wheel.

“It was just an amazing experience for Tristan,” she said. “When he gets on top, he may feel like he’s in heaven.”

Local 5’s own Millaine Wells and Lisa Malak were among the dozens who gave the Big Wheel a try. Millaine rode with her husband and two children.

“It’s so smooth and slow-moving, but the ride is longer than I expected, so I was glad that my little one made it through,” she said.

She also had some advice for parents taking their kids on board.

“Hit the potty first, bring a bottle of water, and it’s a perfect place to get a nap,” she said, laughing.

Park Manager Jason Arnoldi says having the Big Wheel up and running is satisfying.

“What this means for the park, is it’s really our centerpiece moving forward,” he said. “It’s a lot of work just come to a head. Eleven years we’ve been dreaming about this ride, and to see it actually running right now with people on it, is great.”

“This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened at Bay Beach,” added Sally Kiefer, committee member, Friends of Bay Beach. “It’s not even just how big the ride is. The most important part, the specialist part about this ride is it’s for everyone…. Short, tall, skinny, wide, handicapped… Anybody (that) can get here, can get on it. If you can get on it, you can ride it.”

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