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Sonny Fox vs. Park Security

Most of you know Sonny Fox, who was the host of the popular children's show "Wonderama." In the book "Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories," Sonny told his story about getting "arrested" when he appeared at the amusement park back in the 1960s.  Sonny also told his story in the documentary.

Well, there's always two sides to every story. When the show aired on NJN in July of 2006, the other key player in the story, Park Security Officer, Mark Warren Carlstedt, saw the TV show and wrote me to tell his side of the story. Here for your reading pleasure are both tales... you make up your own mind!

Sonny Fox


Officer Mark
Warren Carlstedt

The following is an excerpt from the book "Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories" as described by Sonny Fox.

One time Sonny Fox, host of the popular children's television show "Wonderama," made an appearance at Palisades on a brutally hot day. Hundreds of children showed up to see their favorite star. Palisades, which had not counted on Fox's popularity, had little security for the event - only one officer named Warren was assigned to control the crowd.

Warren, not accustomed to the fracas that was occurring, began pushing back the children as they scrambled to get close to the TV host. Fox said to Warren that he would take care of the kids, and asked him not to be so rough. But Warren continued pushing and yelling at the youngsters. Finally Fox demanded Warren's badge number. Warren refused. When Fox reached to see the number on the badge, Warren declared, "You are under arrest for assaulting a police officer."

Although being arrested was far from why Fox had come to the Park, he thought this was his ticket to immortality - a children's television star arrested for defending the youngsters he loved so dearly. The headlines would guarantee that Fox's name would be permanently remembered.

Fox finished his appearance and signed every photo. After that, Warren escorted him back to the administration building. When they arrived, Irving Rosenthal demanded to know what this was all about. Warren informed the Park owner that Fox was being arrested because he interfered with a police officer in the line of duty. Irving became furious. He screamed at the policeman, "How dare you arrest this man! He came here as a guest of the Park!" Irving then informed Warren that he was fired and would never work at Palisades Amusement Park again.


This is the letter that I received from Mark Warren Carlstedt on July 10, 2006. Here is his side of the story.

At the time I was a special cop in Fort Lee and was assigned by Anna Cook to stand-by Fox as he signed autographs. It was on the midway where the Cyclone was but closer to the Palisade gate in a booth that had been set-up. If I remember the name of the ride correctly, we were near the Himalaya ride just before the arcade. There were quite a few kids there getting autographs. It got a bit disorderly with the kids pushing and shoving so I stepped in tried to restore a little order telling the kids to form a line and everyone would be taken care of. Suddenly Fox says in a very loud voice "The Palisades cop is assaulting the children." Thinking that I would get involved in something unpleasant, I left them and told Fox that he could keep order. Since it was my assignment to be with Fox, I went to the administration building and told Anna Cook what happened. As God is my judge, Mrs. Cook said that every time Sonny Fox came to the park he created problems and that he would not be invited again. She told me to go back and just stand by to make sure nothing major happened and escort him back to the administration building, which I did.

When he (Fox) finished with the kids, I escorted him back to the administration building through the back way - behind the Himalaya and past the freak show to the office. While on the way and out of public view, Fox grabbed me by the back of the shirt collar (I was leading the way through the back way) and pulled me to the ground! I was shocked, to say the least. I did cuff him and bring him into the administration building handcuffed and Irving and Anna Cook went ballistic! I told Mrs. Cook that Fox had really done it this time and repeated what she had said to me about him being a problem before in front of Fox. Well, she denied saying that. Irving was running around making sure that I had no operable phone to call for a squad car to bring Fox in (there was a phone jack switchboard in the office and one had to be "plugged-in" to get an outside line). Irving got on the phone to Teddy Grieco (he was on a fishing boat with Fletch Creamer Sr. so he [Irving] made a ship-to-shore call - a big deal in those days). I spoke with Chief Grieco on the phone and he told me to let Fox go and he would speak with me about the situation upon his return. He wasn't mad or even slightly annoyed with me. So, as much as I didn't like it, I did what the Chief said.

The only thing that I could imagine, both then and now, is that Fox was pulling a publicity stunt and was involving me in it. If I remember correctly, his TV show was falling out of favor at the time and he wanted to show himself as a hero to the kids. Nothing else makes sense. I felt then and I still feel now like I was being set-up.

I escorted many acts to the stage in those times and never had a problem with any of them. I was the regular when Bruce Morrow did a radio show weekly from the Casino Bar and we got along quite well.

Anyway, I enjoyed the show very much and, in spite of Sonny Fox, it brought back so many fond memories. Even Callahan's is closing, if it didn't close already. Thanks for keeping the memories alive. I'm afraid that when we're all gone, so will any recollection of Palisades Amusement Park.



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