Friday, September 1, 2017

Jellystone Park: the Early Years

Although I haven’t been camping for a couple years, I’ll go again at some point in the future. And when I do, it’ll probably be at my favorite chain of campgrounds: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. (I’ve mentioned Yogi Bear many times on this blog.)

I’ve stayed at quite a few Jellystone locations over the years in the U. S. and Canada, including Mill Run, Pennsylvania; Niagara Falls, Ontario; and the one outside Toronto.

Locally, there was a Jellystone Park out on U. S. Route 20 just outside of Bellevue back in the 1990s, but I never camped there.
We never camped at a Jellystone Park when I was a kid, either. My parents usually looked for a K.O.A. or private campground instead. So that’s probably why I enjoy going to Jellystone now. I’m just a kid at heart.

I still remember seeing the small ads in the Journal during the early 1970s, looking for Jellystone Park investors. I even sent away for a campground directory, and brochures from specific parks. They all featured the drawing of Yogi shown at right.

It’s interesting today to look at some of these early promotional materials.

The early postcards are fun to look at. Then – as now– the parks had a huge statue of Yogi Bear out front.

Some of the postcards show the great cartoony signs that used to be out by the highway near each park.
Best of all are the postcards showing Yogi himself. Back in the early days of the campground chain, the costumes were seemingly homemade.
Although the artwork now used to promote Jellystone Park is first-rate, many of the early promotional illustrations of the smarter-than-the-average bear were lousier-than-the-average. But these off-model efforts still had a wacky charm.
This postcard featured a gluttonous Boo Boo Bear.
To learn more about the history of Jellystone Parks, click here. Meanwhile, here are some vintage Ohio newspaper ads.
December 12, 1971 ad from the Plain Dealer
June 18, 1973 ad from the Lorain Journal
March 20, 1980 ad from the Plain Dealer
July 25, 1980 Plain Dealer ad

1 comment:

Bryan said...

Thanks for sharing this! My family went to the Jellystone Park in Bellevue a number of times in the '80s and early '90s. As campgrounds go it wasn't the greatest (depending where your site was, the sparse woods weren't enough to block the Rt 20 highway noise), but we kept going there because it wasn't too far away and I loved Yogi. By today's standards the entertainment options were minimal, but somehow we managed to fill the daylight hours between the pool, mini golf, and video arcade.

I distinctly remember that yellow map with Yogi on the cover, because I traced it many times and would draw my own imaginary campground maps. Every now and then I search eBay for the Bellevue map, but I haven't found one yet.

We stayed there one last time in the mid-'90s when it became the Lazy J Family Campground. Granted I was a teenager by then, but it didn't seem as "fun" without the Yogi theme. It looks like now it's called Gotta Getaway RV Park.