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Carnival rides

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are you going to ride one of the carnival rides at the Bushwhacker Festival this weekend? I seriously doubt that I will, but there are a couple that tempt me. One of my favorites has always been the Ferris wheel, but they are more fun if you have a special person with you.

Lester has never really enjoyed any of the rides. I think he might enjoy them more if they didn't cost money, but the idea of spending money to scare yourself for a few minutes doesn't appeal to him. For many years I have had the excuse of riding with one of the children. Our own children were spaced far enough that there were quite a few years when there was always one too small to go alone, but old enough to want to ride. Then when our own children grew up, there were the grandchildren.

Nothing can impress small children more than to have an ancient (to them) grandmother ride in the twirling teacups with them. Nothing can strain the grandmother's stamina as quickly as trying to hold on to one or two grandchildren while her own equilibrium is being challenged.

When the grandchildren were all old enough that my contribution to their fun consisted only of buying the tickets, then I reluctantly resigned from using the rides. But then we had great-grandchildren. I could ride the merry-go-round with them, but was afraid to try anything more vigorous. I didn't want their last memory of Grandmommy to be seeing her carted away in an ambulance.

But there was still one more role I could play. I could stand on the outside and wave to them each time they circled around in their rides. Of course that was after I also played the role of ticket provider.

I doubt that I will even walk through the carnival area this year. I will do well to take in all the events on the Square. But I am very happy that there will be opportunities for the children, youth, young adults and other grandparents to experience the thrill of getting an upset stomach or a migraine headache from being twirled, dropped, swung or bumped on the streets of Nevada.

When I was a child in Washington, D.C., I loved it when the family decided to go down to Glen Echo Amusement Park. It had some marvelous roller coaster rides which I loved. My brother Vernon would ride with me as often as I wanted to ride. He later became a mechanical engineer, and I wonder if that interest was part of his background for his career. My sister Ellen did not like the roller coasters but would sometimes ride so that she would not be teased about it.

I'm not sure about the finances for the rides at Glen Echo. I don't think it was like Worlds of Fun where the stiff admissions price let you ride whatever you wanted (after standing in line for an hour!). Since someone else was paying whatever price the rides cost back at Glen Echo I didn't worry about the cost. But I don't remember anyone cautioning me against riding again because we only had X dollars to spend. Maybe that is why I loved to go so much. Someone else was paying.

The big parks like Six Flags, Worlds of Fun and others don't tempt me as much as the smaller opportunities like our own Bushwhacker Days carnival. I don't like to stand in line and be herded through a maze in order to have a two minute ride. At least here in Nevada, if there is a line, you will know somebody who is also standing in it and get caught up on the news while you wait.

But I really think that my involvement this year will be quiet encouragement and thanks for the people who work so hard to make our annual celebration such a memorable event. But don't be surprised if you do see me on the Ferris wheel. I may borrow someone else's child as an excuse to be a kid again.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus