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Electric Chair Display Being Questioned

Related Post: Clifton Hill Execution

From the Niagara Falls Review:
The exhibit is called Shake and Bake, and for $2 you can watch a hooded male figure get fried while he sits strapped in an electric chair.

How’s that for wholesome, good family entertainment? And right in the heart of our tourism district on Clifton Hill.

I’m in shock (no pun intended) to think a business would put something like this outside in the open where it can be viewed by young children.

This exhibit has got to go!

But don’t take my word for it. Go down and see it for yourself, then let me know what you think. Better yet, let our city officials know. Let our business and tourism people know. Let the owner know.

It’s located right between the Dairy Queen and the Clifton Hill Family Restaurant. The electric chair sits on property owned by the restaurant.

There are benches on the sidewalk in front of the Dairy Queen where families with young children often sit while eating their ice cream.

It’s not a pretty sight when someone drops $2 into the electric chair exhibit.

A manager at the Clifton Hill Family Restaurant said she couldn’t comment, but that I should contact the owner of the business.

When I asked who that would be, she declined to give me the name.

I did locate the owner – Charlie Burland, of the Niagara Clifton Group – for a comment. He said he has heard only three complaints from all the people who have viewed it.

I also wanted to hear from some of the people who have seen this exhibit in action.

Ted Theobald of Niagara Falls, who frequently walks up and down Clifton Hill, said it took him by surprise the first time he saw it while having a coffee across the street.

“I just couldn’t believe it. It’s disgusting,” said Theobald.

“I’ve never seen anyone get electrocuted, but that looks pretty realistic to me.”

He said the situation would be different if it was inside one of the haunted houses or scary museums, because it’s usually teens and older people who go there to be frightened.

He’s offended by the fact it’s on the street where young children can see it.

“The hill has hit rock bottom,” said Theobald.

Some of the other people I spoke to on the street were equally offended.

“It’s not very nice. It’s quite scary,” said Paula Wallace, a visitor from England who watched with a disgusted look on her face after one of her children put money into the machine.

Sandra Romano of Niagara Falls called it “it’s horribly disturbing,” and said she was nearly brought to tears the first time she saw it because it looks so real.

“It’s morbid. It’s death, and an electric chair is not something that should be glorified.”

Romano happened to be walking by when the exhibit started up. She was so repulsed by it that she had to cross the street.

“It’s an image that sticks in your head. I can’t believe that something like that would even be made.”

She also can’t understand why anyone would put it right between and ice cream store and a family restaurant where it’s exposed to anyone walking by.

Romano said tourists are not likely to lodge a complaint – they are not in the city very long, and probably wouldn’t know who to contact.

“I didn’t choose to watch that, I just happened to be walking by. It was against my will. People should not be exposed to something like that.”

Darryl, a young father from Toronto who didn’t want to give his last name, said “it’s ridiculous to have kids watch a guy get electrocuted.”

Darryl, who was pushing a baby stroller, said he always thought Niagara Falls was geared toward family attractions. Not something like this.

“It’s one of the most violent things I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous. If it was in one of the museums, it would be self-contained and you can’t see it from the street. If people want to go in that’s fine.

“But if I’m walking down the street with my son, I don’t want to see some guy getting electrocuted. There’s no place for it.”

Burland, of the Niagara Clifton Group, said he has only received three complaints from what must be thousands of people who’ve seen it.

He notes they’ve had the same exhibit inside their Guinness Book of World Records Museum for about 10 years and have never had a complaint.

“We’ve been open for a month and we’ve had over 5,000 people play the game,” said Burland. “For now, we’re very happy with the performance of the attraction.”

The owner said he has children, ages three, seven and nine, and they all love it. So do the tourists who stop to have their photos taken next to the exhibit.

“It’s unfortunate that there are a few people out there who don’t like it, but right now 99.99 per cent of the visitors love him. If he was to do anything to affect our business or Clifton Hill we would remove him immediately.”

Burland has no plans to shut it down. And while people are entitled to their opinion, he also has an opinion as the owner of the business and right now the only thing he can go by is the numbers.

“It is different, I’ll say that,” said Burland. “What am I supposed to do? We’ll see. If it has to go it will go, but right now I haven’t been convinced that it’s a huge problem.”

As he says, the only thing he can go by is the numbers. He has a valid point.

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