Paragon Boardwalk developers aim to rejuvenate Nantasket Beach with modern amusements, old-fashioned arcade games and delicious food.By David Kindy | Photography by Kjeld Mahoney
Chas Boggini is standing on Nantasket Avenue in Hull on a sunny spring morning. He is talking about the plans for Paragon Boardwalk, the revival of portions of the old Paragon Park amusement park. He is outside Fascination, an arcade-style gaming parlor that has been a fixture here since 1945. Three middle-aged women walk up and peer in the darkened windows.
“When will it be opening?” they ask. One of them adds, “We used to come here all the time.”
“Not until 1,” says Boggini politely. “Please come back then.”
Paragon Park is coming back — at least, a better version of it. The seedier, crumbling aspects of the major attraction are vanishing and a newer, brighter form is taking its place. Paragon Boardwalk is arising from the ashes of what had been New England’s premiere amusement park, which brought tens of thousands of excited visitors to Hull each summer. This new phoenix is poised to do the same.
“We’re making this rusty penny shine again,” says Boggini, a young, energetic entrepreneur who is partners in this resurrection with Chris and Diana Reale of Hingham, along with a fourth silent associate. Last fall, the group purchased a block-long section of Nantasket Avenue between the Horizons on the Beach apartments and Paragon Carousel. This chunk of land included Pennyland Arcade, Dream Machine Arcade, a restaurant and gift shop, Fascination and the former Nantasket Landing Mini-Golf course.
The arcades have been renovated and rehabbed into Paragon Arcade and Craft Beverage Hall. Clean and vibrant, they feature all-new games for kids, along with handcrafted beers and sodas and family food prepared by a local chef. A surfside bar with 10 stools will overlook Nantasket Beach.
Colorful murals by Colombian artists adorn one wall and more art is planned for the outside. The mini-golf has been spruced up and renamed the Nantasket Country Club. Of course, it is the number-one – and only – golf course on the beach. Fans can play the challenging course once or get a yearlong membership for $100 and play all season.
And then there is Fascination. This addictive staple of Nantasket Beach is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The game was started on Coney Island in New York City in 1918 and moved to Hull in 1945. This combination of Skee Ball and Bingo allows players to roll balls into holes in competition with others. The first to light up all the lights wins the prize, which could be cash or an actual item.
The name Fascination will remain but the parlor is getting a fresh coat of paint and refurbishing. Chas and his partners plan to operate it daily during the season and offer a variety of prizes. A portion of the proceeds will go to Nantasket Beach Cleanup Project.
Some of the renovation work is still in progress but proceeding quickly. Plans call for most of Paragon Boardwalk to be up and running this summer. Future concepts include a stylish rear-deck restaurant with a view of World’s End in Hingham, along with other enhancements and accoutrements.
From Connecticut originally, Chas now lives in Weymouth and has fallen in love with the South Shore. He is a fourth-generation craft soda maker. His father still runs Charles Boggini Co. in Coventry, Connecticut Chas plans to put the skills he learned in the family business to good use in Hull.
“Our Craft Beverage Hall will feature handmade beers for the adults and handmade sodas for the kids,” he says. “We’ll have picnic tables next to the murals and near the games so the adults and kids can both have a fun time. This will be a true family entertainment center.”
He adds, “Of course, the prime seating will be the 10 stools at the front window overlooking the ocean. We expect a lot of demand for those chairs! In fact, we are calling that section The Window.”
The prize wall at the Paragon Arcade is where the action is. Customers young and old will be tantalized by all manner of quality gifts and prizes for participating in the wide range of modern video and traditional amusement park games.
“We even intend to offer a major giveaway at the end of the season,” Chas says. “I’m not sure how we will work it but we want to do something that will get people’s attention and keep them coming back.”
Chas wants to hold a major art fair this summer too. He plans to set up a quarter-mile long bank of canvas along the back of the building where the artists that created the indoor murals will work while visitors watch. He also intends to have a series of food trucks on site to give it the feel of a street festival.
“We’re bringing a new energy to Nantasket Beach,” Chas says. “Paragon Boardwalk will be a tribute to what had been here before — only better!”