Diversions. The hyperbole journalists delighted in at the advent of Oak Bluffs placed it on a level with Paris or Rome, comparing the new town with paintings by Monet in the 1870s. Visitors were amazed, in Ellen Weiss’s words in her City in the Woods, by “having been transported from the mundane world into a fairyland, the shock of a miniature city dedicated to joy, pervasive religious feeling, nature . . . even with the resort’s blatantly commercial edge.”

That particular exaggeration isn’t far from today’s view, that feeling you get seeing Ocean Park as you arrive on the ferry or on the ride down New York avenue, passing Sunset Lake after being away for a while. The developers and promoters of the new town and its subdivisions understood the need for pleasing diversions for the annually growing maddening crowds. The Vineyard skating rink, built by founder Samuel Winslow (who invented an improved roller skate) graced the north bluff, and an 800-foot wooden toboggan ride was replaced by the Flying Horses in 1884 (moved in 1889).

Bowling alleys lined Oak Bluffs avenue, bracketing the original Dreamland, itself at one time a casino. Pool and billiard parlors were throughout town — one at Cooper A. Gilkes’s Billiard and Pool Parlors at the Island House Annex, according to an ad in the 1910 Island Directory.

The Tivoli, originally called the Cottage City Casino, offered dancing, boxing, and midget and bear fighting and on June 16, 1915 the Islands first exclusive movie theatre, the Eagle (now the Island) opened. These establishments accompanied such arcane amusements as saltwater baths, tea rooms, horse racing and arcades — but these recreational places were seasonal, for the summer crowd.

Times have changed. Our newly prosperous resort and tourist economy has afforded more of us the opportunity to stay year round. Now, our appetite for amusement will soon be fulfilled by a new bowling alley at one end of Circuit avenue (The Barn) — and a pool hall (The Loft at Dreamland) at the other. While The Barn is being heralded as a family affair, Dreamland’s Loft, expected to be open by the Super Bowl, will have pool tables, foosball, shuffleboard, ping pong, darts, video games, multiple television screens and a lounge serving pub food, an adult game room. Congratulations to JB Blau and his associates at Dreamland; this sounds like fun.

If games aren’t enough for you, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, ACE MV is offering walk-in registration for 36 interesting winter classes at the high school front entrance. Stop by, go to acemv.org or call 508-693-9222.

Saturday at 10 a.m. the library is hosting Dads and Donuts; stories, songs, donut decorating and crafts for all ages. Librarian Sondra Murphy is pleased to announce that Allyson Malik has joined the staff as adult technology services librarian, stop by to say hello and bring your computer questions. Incidentally, if you’d like to display your art work or have a cool collection of some kind, the Oak Bluffs Library would love to hear from you.

The Federated Church’s free lasagna meals on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. will continue until the end of March. I teased church person Pam Butterick, who reminisced about growing up here in OB, on why they called the meal “dinner” instead of “lunch” (because it’s such a hearty meal). Her grandparents owned a cottage in the Camp Ground and her dad at times directed the Vineyard Haven band and the Trinity choir — and when she was a youngster she memorized and sang Tivoli Girl at the Tabernacle. I remember how well she sang it — and being delighted — at an annual Martha’s Vineyard Museum opening a few years ago. Don’t forget that hearty lasagna meal, Sundays at the Federated Church in Edgartown.

The Niantic Park Playground Project has raised more than half of the funds needed — please mail your tax deductible contribution to the Friends of Oak Bluffs (noting Niantic Park) to P.O. Box 1281. Tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 17) is the Family Dance Party from 4 to 7 p.m. at Dreamland featuring DJ Shizz; it’s a fundraiser for the Niantic Park Playground Project. The suggested donation is $5 per person or $20 for a family, and the raffle prizes are amazing, don’t miss it.

If you have an event planned, see eventsMV.com — try it; you can easily post yours.

On June 16 this year, five months from today, the Island Theatre will be 100 years old. Sigh.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send your Oak Bluffs news to: Skip@mvgazette.com.