Another firm policy enforced by Enchanted Forest management was that the park be integrated from Day One, Clark said.

"Keep in mind that it was 1955, nine years before the Civil Rights Act" would make segregation illegal, she said. It was a practice that again placed Harrison's thinking ahead of his time.

"Many people wouldn't go to the Enchanted Forest because they didn't want to run into a black person," Clark said. But Harrison stood firm, and his daughter remains proud of her father's principled stance.

Gardner, who considered writing a book herself but shied away from tackling the research involved, said the August employee reunions are wonderful events, and this year's picnic will be the perfect place to introduce the book.

"It's so neat seeing the employees and hearing their stories," she said. She noted that she moved at age 8 with her parents and three siblings to a house on the park property, where they played all day during summer break from Catholic school in Baltimore.

Lisa Peklo, a longtime West Friendship resident and weekly newspaper columnist who visited the park once as a child growing up in Montgomery County and eventually took her two children there, recalled when the park was set to close.

"There was this collective shriek of 'Oh, no!'" said Peklo, who in the book shares her vivid memories of the park being "soft thrills and low tech."

"The Enchanted Forest resonated with adults as being such a lovely excursion and we were reluctant to let it go," she said. "For kids, it truly was magical."

Both Clark and Kusterer are familiar with the park's many fans, some of whom were interviewed for the book and regularly interact on a Friends of the Enchanted Forest page on Facebook.

"A lot of people are very excited for this book to come out," Kusterer said. She and Clark began collaborating on it in December, "putting the pedal to the metal" in order for it to be ready for the reunion, she said.

"It was a lot of fun, but Janet did all the heavy lifting," said Clark, who has also written a children's book and reissued a biography of her father, the late state Sen. James Clark. Kusterer has written two books about Ellicott City.

The early decades after the park opened "were a kinder, gentler time" for kids and families alike, Gardner said. "Children used their imaginations then."

Asked whether the Enchanted Forest could succeed with kids in today's techno-centric world, she said she wasn't sure — but quickly pointed to the immense popularity of the features with younger children visiting Clark's Elioak Farm.

"Martha is my hero" for all she's done to continue the legacy of the Enchanted Forest, she said. "And the book by Martha and Janet is truly, truly wonderful."