FARMINGTON -- It may be Lagoon's 125th birthday, but it is the amusement park's gifts to the community -- employment, tourism, tax base and a clean family gathering place -- that has area officials singing the park's praises.
The amusement park is celebrating its birthday with a week full of festivities that start today and conclude next Sunday.
The celebration includes a high school marching band, the return of Circus Innosta with admission and thousands of pieces of birthday cake.
The birthday cake celebration will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, with free cake handed out while supplies last. During the hourlong celebration, the Davis High School Marching Band will perform.
"How do you celebrate a 125-year anniversary in one day?" Vice President of Marketing Dick Andrew said in response to the park taking a week to celebrate its latest milestone.
To look at the park, with the vigor of youth running through its midway, observers would be hard-pressed to guess its age. The 51 rides dressed in well-coordinated themes and its attractions continue to grow the park's skyline.
Farmington Mayor Scott Harbertson said the city council will recognize the park's 125th birthday by adopting a proclamation at its July 19 meeting.
"They have been a champion for a long time," Harbertson said of the park, which for years gave Farmington the commercial tax base it needed to preserve the city's quality of life.
The park provides seasonal work for many area youths and is a destination spot for families, Harbertson said.
The Berbert family, of Spanish Fork, uses their season passports to visit the park for days at a time, staying in a local hotel before returning home.
"I grew up coming here," said Brittaney Berbert, originally of Provo, who now brings her family of seven to the park.
And now that her children are getting a little older, she said, they can enjoy the rides.
Andrew credits the park's longevity to the "boots on the ground" management and the ownership of the Freed family, a clean family-friendly environment and the ability of the park to add an attraction nearly each year.
"We really have something for everybody out here."
Andrew grew up in Salt Lake City and said, "A trip to Lagoon was a part of every summer."
He has worked at the park since 1956 and is now the park's longest-tenured full-time employee.
"They're a wonderful amenity to Davis County," said Kent Sulser, the Davis County community and economic development director. "They bring in jobs, and they have a regional draw in bringing visitors into the area."
Andrew said the park employs 140 year-round people and 2,250 seasonal workers.
But those numbers did not come overnight. In its first year of operation in 1886 under the name of Lake Park, it had 53,000 visitors, according to the Lagoon website.
By comparison, Lagoon had more than 1.2 million visitors in 2010, Andrew said.
For 10 years, Lake Park was on the shore of Great Salt Lake, about two miles southwest of its present location, Andrew said. Back then, the park featured dancing, swimming, boating and a mule-drawn merry-go-round.
But as the lake level receded, it made things difficult for swimmers and park guests and forced the park inland, Andrew said. It was then the park's name was changed to Lagoon, as the park was built around a lagoon.
Rowboats, swimming and dancing were the initial park attractions, with its first thrill ride, "Shoot the Chutes," opening in 1906.
That same year, the park added a carousel, which is still in operation today. In 1921, the park added the wooden roller coaster.
Pioneer Village was added in 1976, Lagoon-A-Beach in 1989, and Frightmares in 1995.
Andrew said Lagoon has 120 acres of developed space and 60 acres on its north end for overflow parking.