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Nunley’s golf ball to return to Baldwin

Artifact to sit atop Historical Society Building

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The long-lost golf ball that, decades ago, sat atop the ticket booth near the miniature golf course at Nunley’s Amusement Park, on Sunrise Highway in Baldwin, is returning home.

The fiberglass ball, about 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall, was found months ago in Burlington, N.J., at a shop called Obnoxious Antiques. Baldwin native Vinny Valentini, who in recent years has sought and collected Nunley’s antiques, including two of the junior hot rod cars, said he stumbled on the golf ball as he was browsing the shop’s Facebook page.

A group of Baldwin residents then banded together to contribute to a Facebook fundraiser to collect enough money to purchase the large antique golf ball. The shop’s owners, after hearing that residents were enthusiastically anticipating its journey home, discounted the price of the golf ball from about $5,500 to $3,500.

The plan is to have it mounted atop a 10-foot steel pole next to the Baldwin Historical Society and Museum, at 1980 Grand Ave., where Baldwin residents will be able to marvel at it and reminisce about their amusement park days.

Baldwinite Maureen Herman, who organized the Facebook fundraiser last month, said that a total of $4,208 was raised by 108 donors. The funds will be used to purchase the golf ball, cover the cost to transport it from New Jersey, pour a concrete slab, set up the steel pole and tee, and secure the ball in place as well as the electrical wiring to display the “golf” sign on the ball.

“Nunley’s has always brought and held so many wonderful memories for generations of Baldwinites and surrounding communities,” Herman said to donors on the Facebook page, “and your response to this effort has shown your love of those fond memories.”

Valentini said he was happy to see the golf ball return home.

Nunley’s “was a very special place for a lot of people, me included,” he said, “and I was happy to get my hands on two of the original Nunley’s cars, and happy to find the golf ball as well.”

“Nunley’s is one of the things Baldwin is kind of famous for,” Valentini said, adding that he is pleased an artifact “of that nature” is returning home where it belongs.

John Polito, one of the owners of Obnoxious Antiques, also said he is glad the golf ball is going to its “proper home.” He said he and his co-owners bought it from a man on Long Island’s South Shore, near Jones Beach. It was dug out of the sand under the owner’s back porch.

It was in rough shape — there was a hole in it, it needed repainting, and some of the light sockets were broken. So after it sat in storage at the shop for about nine months, it underwent a month-long restoration, Polito said.

“There’s still a lot of people, when you say the word Nunley’s, their eyes light up,” said Gary Farkash, president of the Baldwin Historical Society, who was one of the volunteers who helped dismantle the famed Nunley’s Carousel years ago when it was put in storage.

The carousel, which graced Baldwin from 1940 to 1995, is now housed at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. And for many Baldwin residents, the features of Nunley’s Amusement Park bring feelings of nostalgia.

Within the next week or two, Valentini and Farkash will rent a van to drive to New Jersey to pick up the golf ball, and then have it installed atop the Historical Society building when the base, pole and wiring are set up. The grand unveiling is tentatively set for next spring.

“It was a labor of love for everyone,” Farkash said.