The Deer Park Tavern in 1994, courtesy of Carrie W, UD '94If you want a history of the building, just go to their site. You’ve probably anticipated what this chapter is (mostly) about: “Old Deer Park” versus “New Deer Park.”
The turning point of course was mid May, 2001. Now, I personally wasn’t there for the last night of the old Deer Park, which culminated in the much talked about “riot.” More about that later in this chapter, from UD kids who were actually there…
…but the thing is, I think many people were under the impression the Deer Park was closing for good, rather that just shutting for interior renovations, and an exterior overhaul. There were stories of UD alums jumping on trains that night, just to get there in time to say their goodbyes. Okay, and maybe leave with a souvenir or three.
What did go away that night -- in the opinion of many purists -- was the wonderfully diverse atmosphere and welcoming mix of personalities that frequented the place. A strange cross-section of the inhabitants of Newark, DE. Maybe even Newark’s answer to the cantina in Star Wars, though I only saw a Wookie in there once. He was eating nachos.
As for the physical changes, well, when I first walked into the place post-renovation, I was like, “Oh, okay…it’s the Deer Park.” The basic layout was still the same, at least in the front room. Cleaned-up a little of course. Okay, a lot.
I really like the second floor and its new deck, but must mention the room on the first floor, that is (was) all the way to the right, when you’re facing the building. I’m talking ALL the way to the right; used to be a package store, and then in later years became a small game room. I understand it’s now just a stairwell and service entrance!
Now, the big one: the downstairs BACK dining area, currently filled with booths. You newer kids might never have known it, but THAT is where they had bands play, along the back wall. There were no booths, just a bunch of tables that were easily removed or pushed to the side, to make way for the crowd (see the 1993 Grinch video to the right!)
Okay, okay, I know you guys love seeing the bands on the second floor. But man, there is like no space up there! Here's a guess: if they knew at the time of renovation that the Balloon was gonna shut for sure, they wouldn't have boothed it up the downstairs, and kept it open, to accommodate a bigger crowd. But hey, the Deer Park has been one of the “Thursday Night Battle” winners since the Balloon’s demise, anyway.
Well, I loved the old Deer Park, it was in my weekly rotation, Fall '94 through Spring '95. Great memories. Warm nights on the porch, staring at…well, a parking lot that then became a parking deck. When I’ve visited UD in more recent years, I always make a point to hang out at least once in the Deer Park’s new incarnation. It may have lost some of its charm…but not all of it. And judging by what I saw there in May 2007 -- a ton of UD seniors loving every minute of Kristen’s set -- there is a new generation of kids making great memories at the Deer Park as well.
Rumor: In 1843, when he slipped in mud in front of the building, Edgar Allan Poe put a curse on the Deer Park to the tune of, "All who enter will have to return."
Dude, this is: True. Because I’ve been in the Deer Park more than once. And so have you.
“Aaaaah, Deer Park. I always expected to see a Buddha there, delivering a sermon. The Deer Park is where I had my first legal drink…some beer, followed by ridiculous shots. Nacho night, every Wednesday, without fail. Nachos Frijoles and Negra Modelo. Spent the night before graduation there, when the powers-that-be let the graduating seniors stay, when everyone else was pushed out the door. Don't know how late we were there, just remember my family waking me up at my apartment. I was late for my own graduation. Thank you Deer Park, I still have a stuffed raven mounted over my bar today.”
- Anonymous, UD '95
“Blizzard of 1996. Classes cancelled, yet somehow we managed to make it to the Deer Park...gotta keep the priorities straight.”
- Chryss, UD '94
“A memorable time at the Deer Park was meeting my friends after my very last exam ever at Delaware. I'd pulled my traditional all-nighter and was nervous because, though I was usually a good student, this exam was for a required course in my major and I was on the borderline with regard to whether or not I was going to get a grade high enough to be acceptable for a ‘major’ course (as opposed to a course in another department). Not a big drinker (never was, still not) and never a big beer drinker (grain punch and wine coolers were my thing)…I finished off a pitcher all by myself while sitting with some friends on the porch of the Deer Park.
But, of course, the best memories of the Deer Park are of the Deer Park nachos. My friends and I graduated in 1990 and 1991, and every now and then still call one another with a craving for Deer Park nachos. One day, we'll make our way down there, I suppose. Until then, I'll just have to settle for pulling out the old shot glass and smiling at the memories.”
- Sandey, UD '90
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