John Holer was only 25 when he moved from Slovenia to Niagara Falls and started an attraction that would grow into one of Niagara Falls' most famous attractions, known as Marineland.
I can remember John Holer well. John was always a colourful and determined individual. For many years I worked on various tourism committees with him in promoting Niagara Falls. He worked tirelessly to the very end to build this world-famous attraction.
I can also recall the opening his attraction in 1961 when he placed two large steel tanks in the parking lot opposite the entrance to the Niagara Parks Commission headquarters on Portage Road. He filled the tank with water and three sea lions. He then went about hiring the then Niagara Falls Mayor, George Bukator’s daughter, to swim inside the tank with the sea lions. I believe she also drank a bottle of Pepsi in the tank as part of her act. He also placed several dozen cars that he got from a wrecking yard outside his new attraction to make it appear he was busy. He charged a quarter for admission. The rest is history.
The park will continue to operate as normal but it will never be the same without John Holer’s presence. Marineland celebrated its 57th season of operation last month.