Great Escape to honor McKay

Thursday, July 17, 2014
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Wild Windy Bill McKay in action in 2006.
Wild Windy Bill McKay in action in 2006.

— The spirit of Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay will live on at the Great Escape amusement park.

At 10 a.m. today, park officials and members of the late marshal’s family will dedicate the McKay museum inside the park. The new exhibition hall, located in Great Escape’s Ghost Town, updates McKay’s old jail. Pictures, plaques and memories of the marshal’s 50 years on the job will all be inside. McKay’s uniform and guitar also will be on display.

The Great Escape will also use the occasion to revive one of McKay’s old gags — the first 1,000 people through the park gates Thursday through Sunday will receive a free “anniversary edition” McKay deputy badge. Guests who dress like a cowboy — or show park ticket sellers their old Windy Bill badges — will be allowed to buy an admission ticket for $19.54 on any of the four days.

McKay, whose real name was Daniel F. Claps, died at age 90 at Cobleskill Regional Hospital in 2011. His final year at Great Escape was 2007, when he was 86.

At the amusement park, McKay always dressed in a white cowboy hat, cowboy boots, long-sleeved Western shirt and a shiny marshal’s badge. With a pair of six-shooters at his side, he would lead a “posse” of children down Main Street of Ghost Town to capture some bank robbers.

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