By Lissa Alexander
It’s the simple pleasures in life that leave the sweetest memories in your heart.
That’s how the dream of Paradise Mini Golf and Fun Park began, and that’s how it will end for the Jiggins family when they leave the business they have built over the last 35 years in Parksville.
“We were down in Disneyland and across the gate was a mini golf course and I guess we sort of fell in love with it,” said Joan Jiggins, matriarch of the Jiggins family. Joan and her late husband Mike Jiggins visited the course with their five children and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They returned several times over the years.
Joan remembers Mike being so excited about it, he sent away for plans so he could build his own mini golf course in Parksville. “He paid about $100 for them,” she remembers, “and I still have them. But of course, we didn’t use them.”
Susan Lafauci, Mike and Joan Jiggins’ daughter, and her husband Joseph Lafauci were planning to travel to Disneyland and Mike asked them to visit the beloved mini golf course. They got in touch with the designer, and he helped Mike’s dream come to fruition.
Paradise Mini Golf opened in 1988 with Turf ‘N Surf, a course that captivated people of all ages in the area, complete with the old waterwheel, lighthouse, windmill, and a miniature Victorian mansion.
A castle was built which housed the main reception, an arcade, and a gift shop on the lower level. On the floors above, Susan and Joseph raised their three sons.
The Fun Park was so popular in the early years, expansion was inevitable.
“Within the first year, we knew we had to build another 18 holes,” said Susan.
The second course, Treasure Island, opened in 1990 with a pirate theme. The family even built their own pirate ship in the workshop at Arranglen Lodge, the extended care facility they were operating at the time.
The old woman’s shoe was added along with an amusement centre featuring a variety of redemption and arcade games. The reception area was repurposed to include Stellario’s Café, and the bumper boats opened in 2000.
Joan said the business was Mike’s heart and soul.
“He loved every minute of it, from building it to dropping in regularly to enjoy the sights and sounds.”
Joan said the reason Paradise has been so successful over the years is because it offers something for all ages. She’s very proud of the work Susan and Joseph have done managing the property, as well as the work done by the rest of the family, and many members of the community.
“There have been so many wonderful people who have worked here over the years,” she said. “And now their children are working here and playing the courses.”
Joan says Paradise has been a big part of her family’s lives over the years, and they want to thank the community for the support.
“We’re pleased to have helped create so many lasting memories, and we’ll take so many away with us.”
The family said they have been made aware the new owners will continue to operate the business as a mini-golf and RV site at present.