Yesterday was good and bad. Mostly good, I’m glad to report. The bad came early though when my sister and I tried to take our kids to a place we had known in our childhood called Enchanted Village. Back in the day, it was a place with kiddie rides, storybook shaped buildings, cotton candy and mini golf, all tucked into a cute woodsy area. It was a year-round attraction and a fun place to spend a day. Many years ago, the park had added on a water slide park. Over time, the water slides became the big deal but the rides and kiddie stuff was still available when the water park was closed.
Fast forward to now. We pulled up to the park and noticed that only the “Wild Waves” sign remained. The roller coaster track was there but no cars were moving on it. The Hansel and Gretel shaped rooflines were still visible from the trees but that side of the area looked run down from our street side view. We paid our ten dollars to park (!) and stood in line for admission. The signs only mentioned Wild Waves and the prices were sky high (it would have been over $120 just for four of us). We made it to the counter and asked about Enchanted Village. Could we just go to the rides? We didn’t want any of the water attractions. Nope. The parks had merged and it appeared that Wild Waves had pulled a Tsunami on the Enchanted Village. The kiddie rides and play areas of the past appeared to have been swallowed up by swimming pools and water slides.
Back into the car we went – two sad kids and two sadder parents. I was really disappointed at not being able to share those same rides with my son. My excitement at seeing the boys go down the big slide on a potato sack or ride the mini coaster was even stronger than their desire for cotton candy.
Not to be defeated, we hatched a plan to create our own carnival at home. Fueled mainly by cotton candy, kettle corn and sno-cones, our carnival would feature a world-class slip n’ slide, a swing set and icy water from a garden hose. A few stops on the way home found us loaded with our carnival treats and our slip n’ slide. We set it all up and let the kids eat their fill of the treats. Slipping, sliding, running and getting muddy were all on the menu, as were carnival hot dogs and chips for dinner. The carnival wound down when the sun set with two tired, happy, and sugar-fed kids wanting to know when the carnival would be up again for business.
Our next carnival will have some midway games – sack race, egg and spoon, wheelbarrow race – and will likely come to town again on the Fourth of July. We’ll get some prizes, some tickets to redeem for treats and yet more cotton candy. My son will be tasked with drawing our carnival poster and perhaps a dip in a wading pool will be featured this time. At our carnival, the crowds are small and the service is personal.
So, like I said, it was a good and bad day. If Enchanted Village had been there, we would have had some great Kodak moments, but we wouldn’t have figured out our own carnival and made our own fun. All in all, the homemade carnival had all the fun we wanted. We didn’t recreate memories, we made new ones.