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Years in the making, miniature carnival is ready for big debut

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 August 2015 at 12:00 am

Hudson Magic Midway, built by Albion men, will be unveiled at Erie County Fair on Wednesday

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Sky-Flyer, a new midway ride built in 2014, is a towering attraction in the Hudson Magic Midway, a collection of 40 miniature replicas of midway rides from the 1950s to the most recent innovations in amusement park rides.

Three Albion men – Charlie Zicari, his brother Frank, and their close friend Jay Pahura – will debut the Hudson Magic Midway inside a 40-foot-long semi-truck trailer this Wednesday at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg.

The rides are illuminated and show a history of amusement park attractions, from the signature Sky Wheel at left, to popular concessions and games such as Skee Ball.

The rides are all fully operational on a small scale – but not too small. The Sky Wheel is nearly 5 feet tall at 56 inches.

The trailer that houses the miniature carnival has flags on top, panels that tell the history of the project, and a striking design.

The miniature carnival started in 1953, when the late Albion resident Harold Hudson started building miniature midway rides in the basement of his home on Caroline Street. The display eventually filled two garages from front to back and Hudson welcomed the community to see them.

Hudson used ordinary materials found around his house, plus his creative ingenuity to make the rides. He hand-built many of the rides just as they were being introduced by ride manufacturers to carnivals across the United States.

The Hudson rides were illuminated and fully operational, just on a small scale.

Charlie Zicari was a boy when he saw “Hudson’s Exposition Shows.” Zicari was hooked. He became friends with Hudson and started building rides and helping him with the set up.

The display inside the trailer includes a skyscape, giving the mini carnival a planetarium feel.

When Hudson died in 1989, he left his miniature carnival to Zicari.

Zicari has built many of his own rides, including more recent additions to carnivals. The Zicari brothers and Pahura set up the mini midway at the former Erie Canal Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast in Albion a few years ago. That was the first time the public had seen the rides in many years.

The bed and breakfast has since closed. The Zicaris and Pahura have been working on a home for the attraction: the long trailer that needs to be moved by a semi truck.

They have been strengthening some of Hudson’s creations to make them sturdy for trips to fairs and other festivals. The rides have been painted with five to six coats of a reflective paint to make them better illuminate in the black light.

“We’re keeping the integrity of his rides but making them stronger for travel,” Charlie Zicari said.

Harold Hudson made this Para-Trooper ride in 1981. The Hudson Midway Magic gives a snapshot of the history of carnival rides.

“There’s nothing out there like this,” said Charlie Zicari.

The two Zicari brothers and Pahura have been chipping away at this project for several years while juggling their full-time jobs. Charlie works for Wegmans in overnight operations. His brother Frank works for General Motors as a team leader. Pahura is a motor equipment operator for the Village of Albion Department of Public Works.

The Hudson Magic Midway has the big rides, but also ticket booths and other features of a carnival.

A big Gondola wheel, built in 2000, looms large from the right side of the display. These rides will all be moving at their individual speeds.

“I’ve always had a fascination with the architecture of amusement rides,” Charlie Zicari said.

Hudson made this replica of the Trabant, which has been refurbished for the new display.

The Zicaris and Pahura have worked together to create some of the newer rides, while restoring some Hudson’s original ones. They have 40 more rides that aren’t part of the current display.

Zicari said they intend to rotate other pieces in the future.

Hudson Magic Midway will be at the Erie County Fair for all 13 days, starting on Wednesday.