September 20th, 2014

krazy koati

The lovelight is bright in your eye, dear

The park we meant to visit Sunday was another revisit: Rye Playland. It was hit by Superstorm Sandy, not so badly as Seaside Heights was, but still hit, wiping out plans to redevelop the park into something with fewer rides but more year-round revenue streams. It's still not clear what's going to happen to the park, which is a national historic landmark (like Kennywood), but which is also a county-owned amusement park and therefore quite offensive to people who oppose governments doing things that people enjoy. I'm not aware of any specific threat to the park, or its historic Dragon Coaster, but it does occupy a difficult position: it's a local park, close to Coney Island and Great Adventure and the whole Jersey Shore strip; it's government-owned and so if it makes a lot of money it raises complaints that it's overcharging the public or ought to be privatized, while if it doesn't it raises complaints that it's a waste of tax revenue; it's in parts over 80 years old; and it's right by the water, ready for rising sea levels and more superstorms to smash it. The place is grand, but who can say how long it will be?

We got started not too late, considering we were getting a bit ragged after a week of amusement parks and driving. We got later because ... well, there's a couple ways to get from central New Jersey to Rye, New York, and they involve either going through Manhattan, or driving way out of the way, almost rounding the Azores, and returning, ideally without going over the Tappan Zee Bridge That's Gonna Collapse Any Minute Now. I picked the route that took us through Manhattan, without thinking much about it, or that it would have us driving through the city early on a Sunday afternoon, when the roads were clogged with all the traffic that wasn't at Dorney Park for some reason, everybody driving all nervously. It wasn't a very soothing drive, although it let up once we got out of the city, which took about eight weeks to do.

Still we found the park, which wasn't as easy as should have been --- the only billboard or other sign we saw on the highways we saw while driving home, a long way past where anyone could see it and be inspired to drop in on the park. We saw more billboards for Lake Compounce, in Connecticut, which is on our plan for New England Parks Tour. Of course, we also found Rye Playland utterly by accident once, when we were driving up to see moxie_man and needed to stop anywhere for lunch. They could use some better signs is all.

It was a nicely crowded day, though, as pleasant August Sunday might imply. We did a good bit of that endless-driving-back-and-forth looking for parking spots before finally giving up and driving to the far end of the lot where cars were less dense on the ground. This also put us at the wrong end of the park for the main entrance, but that's all right. Playland has multiple entrances --- it was, until fairly recently, an ungated park where you paid for rides as you boarded --- and we might do better buying our wristbands from one of the lesser gates.

So we might have, if there weren't one of those classic confused groups of a handful of adults and something between four and nine hundred kids of varied ages, trying to work out what exactly it was they meant to buy (the answer they seemed unaware of: one wristband per person). When that line wasn't doing anything for roughly ever I took a chance and looked at the other side of the ticket building to find that oh, yes, that side was open too, and it had a much shorter line. We jumped over, as did the people behind us, who thanked us for the intelligence that there was a shorter line.

Shorter does not necessarily mean faster. While there was just the one family ahead of us this one was somehow even more confused about what they wanted to buy (again: one wristband per person, people; if you want to be really slick, count the number of people in your party before you get up to the ticket window). So we got to enjoy that ticking anxiety of being at but not in the amusement park, listening to the roller coasters going past, and watching people just not understand how to buy one admission per person going in. Possibly we would have been better off going to the main gate after all.

Trivia: Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll first worked together around September 1920 when the Joe Bren Company (which both worked for) sent Gosden to Durham, North Carolina, to be tutored by Correll in the company's minstrel show. Source: The Adventures Of Amos 'N' Andy: A Social History of an American Phenomenon, Melvin Patrick Ely.

Currently Reading: Mathematics And The Unexpected, Ivar Ekeland.