The Zippin Pippin has taken its last ride in Memphis, partially collapsing Thursday before being dismantled for sale to Green Bay, Wis.
“A section had fallen down, and they decided to lay down the rest of the Pippin,” said Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, president of Save Libertyland! Inc., the nonprofit group negotiating the sale of the century-old roller coaster to Green Bay.
Mulroy said that while Green Bay is buying the rights to all the Zippin Pippin’s material, most of the wood, which has been exposed to the elements since the Libertyland amusement park closed in 2005, could not be used.
Green Bay is acquiring the name, design and configuration of the roller coaster, Mulroy said.
“They’ll be able to say the only Zippin Pippin in the world is in Green Bay,” he said. “Some of the wood is salvageable. Some of it isn’t. They’re still trying to figure that out. Frankly, Green Bay may only use a small portion of that wood.”
During an afternoon news conference at attorney Leslie Ballin’s office Thursday, Mulroy said the sale of the vintage ride is proceeding. The mayor of the Wisconsin city will take the proposed purchase to his parks committee next week, with full city council approval likely in March, Mulroy said.
“They want to get this deal finalized in 60 days,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ballin, who said he has been doing pro bono legal work for Save Libertyland for several months, admitted there was a “difference of opinion” with the city of Memphis over who owns the Zippin Pippin right now.
Save Libertyland claims it is the current owner, but the city — which supports the group’s efforts to sell the roller coaster to Green Bay — says it owns the Zippin Pippin until it is taken apart and stored.
Mulroy said a dispute over how he came to be in control of Save Libertyland was a meaningless side issue.
“The important thing is what is going to happen with the Pippin,” he said.
Denise Parkinson, who formed Save Libertyland in 2005 with Mulroy and other concerned citizens, claims Mulroy, whose high-profile work with the group helped him land his District 5 County Commission seat in 2006, dropped her from the group and put himself in control of the organization when filing paperwork with the state.
If the sale to Green Bay is completed, Save Libertyland would receive a “five figure” amount for the Zippin Pippin. Nonprofit groups like Save Libertyland can pay officers like Mulroy a salary, but the county commissioner said he won’t take any payments. He said he would like to use the funds to commemorate the historic nature of the Zippin Pippin and Libertyland.
Mulroy is up for re-election to his commission seat. The county primary is May 4 and the general election is Aug. 5.
“I hope it is clear that there is no ulterior political nor financial motive on the part of Commissioner Mulroy, as his past four years work have simply been for the good of Memphis,” Ballin said in a statement.