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Arto Monaco at work on a comic book
Arto Monaco at work on a comic book

Arto Monaco: the King of Make-Believe

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When tropical storm Irene swamped the Ausable Valley, it erased the last remains of the Land of Make Believe in Upper Jay. The theme park, a popular destination from 1954 through the late 1970s, was built by legendary toy-maker and park designer Arto Monaco.

Monaco, who grew up in Ausable Forks, also designed the original Santa's Workshop in Wilmington, and contributed to parks in Lake George and Old Forge.

Most of his work is gone now, swept away by floods and by changing tastes, and Arto himself passed away in 2005. But before his passing, Brian Mann had a chance to visit him in his workshop in Upper Jay. Here's Brian's story, which first aired in 2002.

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A Bavarian village where even the animals are smiling

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief


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