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4/29/2003

 
| Step Right Up. . . -- It's Carnival Season!

The summer is almost here! Today I drove by a shopping mall that had recently set up a traveling carnival. I love those things. Old, decrepit amusement park rides, taken down, stored in rickety old trucks, moved to the next location, and put up again. This process happens two, maybe three, times a week. I love it. Every time I go on one of those rides I wonder if it will fall apart while I am being hurled, upside down , 50 feet into the air.

I like to live dangerously.

And don’t forget the rows and rows of cheesy carnival games. Where else can you pay 3 bucks for five chances to win that Van Halen pocket mirror you always dreamed of? Those game areas always have that BB gun game where you try to shoot out the star – so all you hear is the constant rap-a rap-rap rap of the gun being shot. There are also old speakers with classic rock blaring in the background. By the way, I am very good at the ring toss. I once won the biggest stuffed animal you have ever seen. It is now rotting away, unseen in our attic. My goal is to win one of those velvet Elvis or Jesus pictures before I die.

I wonder if the Department of Health would disagree with me, but I can’t get enough of carnival food; sausage and pepper subs, candy apples, nachos, chili dogs, fried dough, pizza -- for some reason it all tastes really good at the carnival.

If you are lucky – some carnivals have a “local” section which is put up by the people who invited the carnival people to come in the first place – usually as some sort of fundraiser. Many times these local areas have a gambling tent where you can play the over/under game, bell jar games, and spins wheels. Don’t forget the ever popular B-I-N-G-O!

If you are really, really lucky – there is a beer garden – need I say more?

A few summers ago my wife and I went to one of these carnivals in the southern United States. It was pretty much the same except this carnival included the “side show” which I haven’t seen in the north. The side show is depressing. Here, you can see the “World’s Smallest Woman” – which, in reality, is a poverty stricken dwarf forced to sit in a middle of a trailer while you pay $5 dollar to gawk at her. Often times the rest of her family is outside the trailer. Or, there is some poor animal, labeled something like “The Taiwanese Cat of Death!” sick with disease, stuck in a cage too small for its body.

A word of advice – avoid the sideshow.

But the best part of a carnival is the nighttime. A warm summer breeze, the smell of carnival food in the air, and someone you love by your side – feeling a bit nauseous after just getting off the “Tilt-O-Whirl

There is simply not a better way to pass the time.

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