Hadad’s Lake For Sale! A Tribute to Richmond’s Ragtag Disneyland


It’s not every day a piece of a city’s soul is put up for sale and we are a few weeks late on this piece of news. But here we are, at the edge of Hadad’s Lake, looking back at the ripples of history and community connection that this place has fostered over the years.

In 1965, Dorian Hadad’s father, Ronald Sr., along with the money he earned as a Marine, combined forces with his father to purchase the property. A man-made swimming hole that became much more than just a watering hole. A family atmosphere was their dream, Hadad would tell you, and they made it real.

The sandy-bottomed swimming lake, diving boards, playground slides, a water blob, a fishing lake – it wasn’t Disneyland, but it was ours. All those small-scale waterpark amenities didn’t come without their costs, though. As Hadad recently revealed, amusement park insurance, akin to what Kings Dominion would fork over, made running the business impossible.

Now, we at RVA Magazine can’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia. Between 2005 to 2014-ish, Hadad’s Lake was our community’s playground, our refuge, our stomping ground. It’s where we saw Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus’ funeral, attended Best Friends Day, and partied at GWAR BBQ.

You remember GWAR BBQ, don’t you? Well, of course, you do. Richmond’s own wild ride of music, costumes, and mayhem. And Best Friends Day – ah, those underground punk rock music festivals, their echoes still reverberate across the lake.

Potential buyers are making eyes at the place, but no offers we know of at the time of this writing. Some hope to modernize it; others see a wedding venue or a summer camp. Hadad? She hopes to keep the business in the family and preserve the zoned business that it is, instead of seeing it crumble into just another housing development.

Now, don’t you dare get all doom and gloom, Richmond. The business may have gotten a few offers, but nothing’s set in stone. Perhaps new partnerships are on the horizon, and the legacy might just live on.

Hadad’s Lake isn’t closed yet. It’s open Fridays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with admission at $18 for those over age 3. Go out there. Splash around. Make a memory or two. Let’s give this place the send-off it deserves.

“It’s been a pleasure serving the community since 1965, and we appreciate all the support we’ve had,” Hadad said.

We appreciate you too, Hadad’s Lake. Thanks for the memories, the friendship, and the weird and wonderful way you’ve woven yourself into Richmond’s heart.

Here’s to hoping the next chapter is as glorious as the last.

Main photo by David Kenedy @_anywhere_somewhere



R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me

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