Monday, May 30, 2011


I finally made it to the Coleman Brothers Carnival on the last night this year. Beautiful night yesterday, perfect for a stroll outside. Coleman Brothers are based in Middletown and were established in 1916, making this their 96th year. I'm not sure how long they've been coming to Waterbury. Waterbury used to have its very own amusement park, at Lakewood Park, complete with roller coaster, back in the 1930s.

It was a lot like the carnivals at the county fairs I went to when I was a little girl living in upstate New York. In fact, pretty much all the same things were there. I guess there's a standard formula that's been working for decades.

There's the alley of booths full of really cheap-looking stuffed animals that you can try to win by shooting streams of water to inflate balloons or throwing very large basketballs into very small hoops. Most of the people attending were just strolling around and socializing, not spending too much money on games.

The carnival life is always fascinating. They live in very nice trailers, complete with satellite television and air conditioning (although we did see one very old, beat-up looking trailer alongside the nice new ones).

When I was a kid, my mom never let me ride on any roller coasters. She was terrified something horrible would happen to me. Instead, she took me on a ferris wheel. Very disappointing. More fun was the centrifuge ride, like Coleman Brothers' "Starship".

Can't forget the fun house, starting with the hall of mirrors. These are believed to have originated at Coney Island (as did so many other things). I didn't go to carnivals all that often when I was a kid, but the memories are very strong.

The Coleman Brothers Yo-Yo spins out a bit further than I remember a similar ride doing when I was a kid, but maybe I'm just remembering wrong. The one from my childhood was supposed to be some sort of futuristic flying car ride (like something from The Jetsons).

Now that I'm an adult, I can appreciate all the basic principles of physics involved in amusement rides--which is why some high schools have physics field trips to amusement parks!

And, of course, the carnival junk food--ice cream, pizza, fried dough, hamburgers, and soda.

It's funny how the carnival still gleams with a special allure. Even in this modern age of super-sized amusement parks, there's something about the carnival coming to town that triggers a little rush of excitement.

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