Amusement parks are synonymous with the summer. I thank God that my daughter is still too small to ride some of these rides by herself. At this point, I am shuffling her away from the turbo twisters and free fall monster rides. We happily hop on the carousel together. She’s going to have to find a set of fearless friends because most people in her family are thrilled enough riding the antique cars and knocking down milk bottles.
I personally have a fear of heights. It’s a pretty tremendous fear too. When you have the option of making a ride go higher I will ALWAYS choose not to. I’m OK with fast and spinning but not height. I love Disney because a large majority of it is made up of slow boat rides, character meetups, and watching those bears tell outdated jokes. Perfect for me but not so sure how long my daughter will enjoy this. Recently on a ride at Disney with my fearless daughter, she kept pushing my hand away from the controls so we can go higher. We don’t need to discuss which ride this was. Let us just say there were giant elephant ears involved. Well, in a moment of sheer terror, I told her I would never buy her another toy again if she didn’t stop touching the controls. I’m not proud of this moment. If you need me I’ll be making sand art.
There are amusement parks and then there are those quick pop-up carnivals or street fairs with creaky sounding rides. In addition to the rides is the terrific-tasting, terrible for you food. Some things you may hear me say at a street fair are: “I don’t think I can eat this sausage and pepper sandwich in public.” “Oh, My! These deep fried Twinkies are a gift from God.” Street fairs used to be all fried fabulousness but now it’s starting to get a bit hipper with Jamba Juice and fancy food trucks making buffalo mozzarella and asparagus crepes. I’m health conscious every day of the week. When I go to a street fair, I know the party I want to attend. Give me the food cooked on that dirty grill.
I grew up going to those downtown, New York City Catholic feasts. Every year in June we would visit the lower east side to go to the St. Anthony feast. It wasn’t called a street fair. It was the feast. Driving down the lower east side we would “roll ‘em up” when the stumbling old man with the squeegee came around to “wash” the car windows. As a six-year-old, I knew that once this very scary part was over there would be a giant pink cotton candy waiting for me.
We ate Sicilian pizza, zeppoles, and sausage and peppers served from handsome golden-skinned Italian men in tank tops and gold chains. My mother would always give me some of her peaches soaked in red wine. Then we would shop for religious articles sold by the Nuns. I still have my Lady of Fatima statue and pink rosary beads. Walking through the feast you would inevitably be harassed by game hustlers with promises of gargantuan sized stuffed animal prizes.
Then just like that, this area became ultra hip SOHO. I think I can remember exactly when it changed. I pulled my mother’s hand toward a jewelry vendor selling silver and rhinestone pendants. I picked out a cute cat necklace with yellow rhinestones in the collar.
Now I eat normal food from a chi-chi restaurant that put up a canopy in front of their place so they appear to be part of a cool street fair. Occasionally I come upon a dunk tank with a frightening clown hurling insults at me. But for the most part, it’s gentrification at its best. My all time favorite is when an insurance agency sets up camp at a fair. Nothing else puts you in a festive mood as spinning a wheel and winning a company logo lanyard. I am officially at an age where I can say I remember the good old days.