A couple of weeks ago a small carnival came to town and set up shop in the College Station mall parking lot. The Ferris Wheel was visible from the highway, so of course Will spotted it as we were driving by and I knew we wouldn’t get out of a trip to the carnival.
When I was a kid my parents would take Sara and me to both the Dane County Fair and Edgefest each and every year. We also went to the Wisconsin State Fair a couple of times, and to a small amusement park called Bay Beach every time we visited my Grandma and Grandpa in Green Bay. I remember all of these carnivals as vibrant and exciting and offering delicious food. We’d run – with my dad when we were little and with our friends when we were older – from ride to ride and game to game, taking breaks from the thrills only to consume warm funnel cakes and sugary lemonades. Those were the days.
This carnival? Not so great. I can’t be certain, but either carnivals have changed or my memories of carnivals are inaccurate; this time around it was all I could do not to focus on:
- The filth (“Stop! Hallie! Don’t lick that picnic table!”)
- The cost (Disney World seems expensive until you spend $20 in 10 minutes on carnival rides.)
- The disgusting, greasy food (I was so excited eat a funnel cake for the first time in probably 15 years. Until I took a bite, that is.)
- The slightly-crazed-looking, chain-smoking, two-fingered man running the Gravitron.
(We were also a little disappointed by the height requirements. At Disney World, most attractions allow children who are 40 inches tall to ride; at the carnival, children had to be 42 inches tall to ride. Will is 41 inches tall. Big bummer.)
The beautiful thing is, with the exception of the height requirement confusion, Will had an amazing time. (Hallie, not so much. She took a tumble off a picnic table and nearly scored herself a concussion.) To him, the carnival was vibrant and exciting. And so that he’ll have memories like I’m lucky enough to have, we took him on every ride he was tall enough for; bought him a foot-long corndog, a funnel cake, and a sugary lemonade; and let him take in whatever crazy sights he wanted to before we headed home. The carnival outing was just the kick in the pants I needed – a reminder to occasionally take a break from acting like a grown-up and instead look at the world through the eyes of a four-year-old.
Ferris Wheel (out of which Hallie tried desperately to escape)
Flying Whales & Spinning Tea Cups