Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Kids' First Trip to the Boardwalk

Going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk always brings a burst of nostalgia: the smell of fried dough, the sea air, the music blaring over the PA system. (It helps that they continue to play songs from when I was in high school. Question: Is anyone else still promoting the music of Jane Child?)

We were in Santa Cruz last weekend, and it seemed finally time for the kids to experience the Boardwalk themselves.

Shortly after we arrived, Elliot sought out the rides that were only for bigger kids and/or guaranteed to induce vomiting.

Eventually we talked him down to Bulgy the Whale — a mainstay of the Boardwalk's kiddie area since at least the 1980s.

The 101-year-old Looff Carousel (a national landmark) also provided a thrill — though he wasn't tall enough to grab for the brass rings.

The carousel is one of only a few merry-go-rounds left with ring dispensers. The point is to get one of the rings as you roll by and then throw it into a giant clown's mouth. There are bells and flashing lights if you're successful. These days, though, the rings are just plain steel — not brass — and many people probably have no idea about the origin of the phrase "grabbing the brass ring."

(Side note: While looking up the Boardwalk website, I saw it was named the "world's best seaside amusement park" by Amusement Today magazine. I've never seen or read Amusement Today, but I'm delighted by their ambiguous name. I imagine a Bond villain saying, "You're amusement today, but tomorrow I'll feed you to my genetically modified dobermans.")

For nostalgia's sake, I was relieved to see that the Boardwalk is still serving Dippin' Dots in multiple locations — despite the company's bankruptcy filing in November.

It does seem, though, that they're no longer calling it the "Ice Cream of the Future." I'm not sure if that's an ominous sign.

Alice, meanwhile, enjoyed her own thrill ride: Walking Upright.

There are no height requirements for that one.