Hoffman’s Playland has been a Colonie landmark for more than six decades. It’s been a child’s gentle introduction to the world of amusement parks. It’s been a summer job for countless teens. And it’s been a place parents could reward their children’s good grades and good behavior, while feeling like kids again themselves as they rode the rides with them.
Soon, this Route 9 beacon will be nothing more than a memory. The owners, David and Ruth Hoffman, are set to retire. They offered to sell the park to someone else in order to keep it running, but they couldn’t find anyone. So, they are developing the land by replacing the rides with more of the mixed commercial and residential buildings that are currently cropping up next door — where Hoffman’s Mini Golf, Hoffman’s Restaurant, Lickity Splits ice cream stand and Hoffman’s Driving Range once stood.
We can’t fault the Hoffmans for deciding the time has come to close the last vestige of their family’s entertainment empire. Everyone deserves to retire so they can spend more time doing the things they held off on doing while they were working. And they did try to find a way to keep the park going so more generations of Capital District residents could enjoy it, even as they said good-bye to some of their other businesses.
Unfortunately, in terms of dollars and cents, the land Hoffman’s Playland sits on is more valuable for commercial enterprises than to the families that visit the park every summer. As the area of Route 9 surrounding the park saw more shops and businesses come in, the park became increasingly penned in to the point where you can barely see it from the road. If not for the huge sign with the smiling clown’s face and huge, flashing arrow pointing toward the park, you could miss it. It was only a matter of time before the bumper cars, the parachute ride, the merry-go-round and the twin Ferris wheels would be replaced with restaurants and boutiques.