As fond as I am of what I refer to as “Carny Culture”, I’m glad I live here in Santa Cruz. Carnivals are few and far between these days. Here in Santa Cruz I have direct access to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the closest thing to a classic carnival midway I can get to anymore.
This past Labor Day weekend I visited the Boardwalk with my wife, her sister and her sisters two kids. But we visited it at night and I was reminded of something I had long ago forgotten. What a carnival midway looks like at night. For all the years I’ve been living here every time I’ve visited the Boardwalk it was during the day. After all, it’s on the beach and the beach is someplace you go in the daylight, in the warm sun, right?
This was the first time I visited the Boardwalk at night.
I remember years ago as a kid going to the carnival that came to town every couple of years and it was always at night. There is something about all the lights, all the people, all the rides at night that makes all the difference in the world. I had forgotten that.
The picture only hints at the nature of the carnival atmosphere at night. It gives a vague idea, as I rode the sky car along the whole of the boardwalk, of the lights and the sites. I listened to the carnival music and the sounds of people laughing and talking, of kids shouting and playing. We rode over the midway games and the food stands. A ride like that never really existed with the traveling carnivals I visited as a kid. To get up that high then one needed to ride the ferris wheel. But it was still the same experience and it was magical.
I ended up there purely by circumstances beyond my control in the sense that it was a circumstance dictated by someone else. If it weren’t for my sister-in-law and her kids we wouldn’t have been there. And I’m happy about that.
I’ll be going back to the Boardwalk at night again soon.