Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay Dead at 90
This weekend a Capital Region legend died, on July 9, 2011 Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay died at the age of 90. For fifty years the hero of Ghost Town at Great Escape, formerly known as Storytown U.S.A., deputized children from all over the world.
I remember visiting the Adirondack park several times as a child. Every year my brother and I just couldn't wait to get to Ghost Town to ride the Desperado Plunge and help Wild Windy Bill McKay fight the bad guys! There was just something special about getting that metal yellow deputy badge that made you feel like you just accomplished a good deed.
Years later, as an adult, I would work with Wild Windy Bill McKay on stage in the Red Garter Saloon, as I hosted a WGNA Country Dance Party. Backstage he told me the story of how he once worked in Roy Rogers' band, something that made him more of a hero in my eyes. Apparently on his way to play with Roy Rogers in Montreal 1957, McKay did a show in the Lake George area, where he was spotted by theme park founder Charles R. Wood. Mr. Wood offered the Western musician his own show at Ghost Town, and the rest is history. By the way, his real name was Daniel Claps and he was born in New Rochelle, New York.
After meeting McKay, he offered to join me on-stage during my show in the Red Garter Saloon, something I never would have imagined as a child. Then, came the big moment, after teaching a line dance lesson, the legend strolled on stage and deputized me as an adult! Wild Windy Bill McKay just had that magic that made everyone feel like a kid again, I'd rank his mysterious power up there with Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse!
Did you ever meet Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay? Take a moment to leave your comments to help us remember this great childhood icon of the Northeast and beyond!