March 27th, 2018

krazy koati

But the last time I played Father Christmas

We had entered the building for Ghostbusters: Los Cazafantasmas: La Aventure Laser when it was dusk, the sky growing dim but it still being daytime. When we left, twenty or so minutes later, it was night. We had entered from the front of that building. We exited to the side, towards the carousel and the center of this convergence of the walkways of the park.

The lights were on.

Many, many lights. Canopies of Christmas lights. It was a cathedral ceiling done up in lights, painted in strands of blue and red and yellow and purple. buildings strung out in red. Trees made out in green zig-zags. Figures of polar bears and reindeers that were bundles of white lights underneath scrim. We were overwhelmed. It was like the time we exited the Fort Pitt tunnel the first time onto the brilliantly illuminated nightscape of Pittsburgh. It was overwhelming, like taking in a whole fireworks show at once. Everything we might have imagined the Christmas At The Park show to be was here, and it was dropped on us without warning. We were just smothered under this beauty.

It was amazing. It was beautiful. There in the slight evening cool, with brilliant lights on a dazzling background we were in the middle of an amusement park, a carousel sparkling as if it were a tree by itself, with Christmas carols on the park's speakers and this was everything we could have hoped Christmas in the Park to be.

The music. They were playing Christmas carols, yes, and so we had one bit of curiosity answered: they do play ``Feliz Navidad'' in Mexico. Or Six Flags just has it scheduled as part of the holiday show regardless of what country any particular park is in. But, you know, we'd wondered. Also we heard someone's cover of the Kinks' ``Father Christmas'', causing us to reflect that the song never turns up on our Christmas music radio stations back home. I'm not sure I've even heard it on Deep Tracks, which is about 15% Kinks by volume. But there it was, played by someone who replaced the line about a ``Steve Austin outfit'' with, I think, a ``Batman outfit'', wiping out a lot of the datedness of that phrase at the cost of throwing off the meter. (bunny_hugger had heard it as, I forget, but something like ``Pac-Man outfit'' that would be only very slightly less dated and thus a baffling change for anytime after Like 1984. And why not a Spider-Man outfit, that would avoid aging so fast and still sound right?)

So we revelled in the park dressed up for the darkness for a good hour-plus. We went to major attractions like Medusa Steel Coaster for a night ride, and to the Dark Knight Coaster for a dark ride with much less waiting this time around. We walked around the park, looking at everything. The park isn't organized into separate national sections, the way Six Flags over Texas was. But it has got some regions. The kiddieland that's all Warner Brothers cartoons. A Polynesian area because, sure, why not. A Mexican area. A Metropolis and a Gotham City and those kind of blend together because they want a Batman coaster next to the Justice League dark ride. Hollywood. We looked a good bit at the Giant Ferris Wheel, but that's not a ride that bunny_hugger feels comfortable on, and I was happy to walk the park with company rather than take the ride alone. Through the arcade (all games, physical or video or redemption; no pinball). And then as we got nearer 7:30, figuring out a spot to wait out the parade. We saw some figures moving. Two of the Three Wise Men. Santa Claus. Belatedly, a third Wise Man.

We went back to the carousel area, figuring to watch the parade so the carousel and its canopy of lights was the background. We got trapped behind the wrong side of the chain fence roping off the parade area, and figured we had enough time to duck under and dash across. Many people did. We knew the scheduled start time for the parade, but not where it was starting from, or which direction, and so we had that awkward time of being one of a mob of people waiting for a thing that might be anywhere.

Finally a pair of security people, holding a red ribbon between them, walked down the cleared area, shooing off any stragglers, and the parade would begin.

And then came the parade. Our nearest model for it was the Silver Bells In The City parade, naturally, floats just barely visible and traced out by lights. These floats had fewer lights, actually; part of Lansing's parade rules are a minimum number of lights each float and encouragement to use as many as possible. But they were more strategically deployed, with wireframes and strands of lights to make great swooping pillars for fairy princesses to stand on, or to cast the image of a dragon out of lights. A cityscape with gargoyles and a faintly Tron-esque figure standing between skyscrapers. No marching band, but people in band uniforms doing rhythmic steps. Wile E Coyote working the line of the crowd. The Three Wise Men, in a float that looked like an Age of Exploration sailing ship. Well, how else would they get to Mexico City? I guess? Dancers with giant snowflake costumes. Near the end more of the Looney Tunes characters, Porky Pig and Foghorn Leghorn still in green Santa decor and yes, Lola Bunny. At the end of the parade, on a sleigh-shaped float with the outlines of packages in lights around it, Santa Claus sharing the seat with Bugs Bunny in a Santa suit, plus Sylvester and Tweetie Pie as brownies. On the back of that, the renowned closing slogan for Looney Tunes: ``Es todo Amigos!'' And past that, an aggrieved Daffy Duck pedaling a tricycle with a garbage can.

And that broke up the parade, and the whole lined up mob filled the parade route and started shuffling off, out of the park. There were fifteen minutes to the close of everything.

We didn't have time to grab any rides on anything, but we could walk around a place we don't figure to be back to anytime soon. It's a beautiful spot. But aren't all parks beautiful by night?

On our own way out we stopped in the last big gift shop up front. I hoped to find a park T-shirt that would be uniquely, distinctly Six Flags Mexico and pretty near failed. The park had T-shirts for the various Superfriends and the Looney Tunes characters but you can get those at any Six Flags park. There wasn't anything with the name of any specific ride on it; if I could have got a Medusa Steel Coaster shirt I absolutely would have. No go; best I could find was a plain brown Six Flags Mexico Recreation Department shirt. bunny_hugger hoped for a Christmas ornament, anything that specified Six Flags Mexico. During the day she'd seen an ornament, I think in that gift shop that was access to Batman The Ride, which had the Superfriends on it but did at least say Six Flags Mexico Christmas in the Park. And it was at least an ornament you could hang from a tree and everything. But we couldn't find it at the shop in the front of the park, and she berated herself for not buying the ornament earlier and lugging it around all day. (Parks so need a claim check system and to store souvenirs at the front. Why is nobody doing this well?)

And as I was buying my t-shirt, she saw the shop did have them. In this little pile on an uppe shelf behind the register, where we'd naturally not see them. She was able to explain, between the Spanish she did master and pointing, what she wanted. It's a silly ornament and really is Justice League themed and it looks a bit ridiculous. But it's an amusement park souvenir from this particular park.

Our one last challenge: get back to the hotel. I tried asking a customer service guy and he told us that outside the (something) exit was a taxi stand. All right. Someone else overheard us and ran up, offering that we should call an Uber. I thanked him for the advice without explaining that we couldn't, and that even if we could, we wouldn't. (Meanwhile this interaction worried bunny_hugger, who got the idea that even the park employees wanted us to take an Uber rather than hire a taxi.) I lead us to the exit where the cars were going and realized ... you know, there were a bunch of taxis but over at this other exit. So we had to cross the path of exiting cars, and walk past a lot of empty parking lot, to find the pedestrian exit. And there there were taxis picking up people from the street. No Authorized Taxi stand, with the comforting and reassuring vouchers and pre-arranged payment and all. But what choice did we have? We took one of the street taxis and were back at the hotel in about 25 seconds.

Had we gone a couple days later, when I was more comfortable with the area, I'd have known just how close we were and how easy a route it was --- just keep on the service road with the elevated highway on our left and we'd be led right to the hotel after maybe 20 minutes walking downhill. But we didn't know that then, and anyway if we had waited until we really knew the area we'd have missed the Christmas at the Park. That was running only until Sunday, and Sunday was already committed.

One oddity. The park proclaimed the holiday event as Christmas In The Park. In English, that is, not in Spanish. Well, fair enough; surely they want to keep the name and logo and all that uniform across the whole chain? Except that in the United States it's Holiday In The Park. I can understand having an alternate name for a country that's got a much stronger dominant religion. But why go halfway with the alternate name? Why not put it in Spanish? If they could arrange a ``Christmas in the Park'' variation on the event logo they could surely do ``Navidad en el Parque''. What's the decision-making process here?

Well, no idea. We have to trust they know what they're doing, as if big businesses ever did.

Trivia: In 1904 Ransom Olds bought the Bancoft Peat Fuel & Cement Company, which was unsuccessful and which he abandoned in 1910. In the meanwhile he traded some shares for control of a gold mine that proved also to be unsuccessful. Source: R E Olds: Auto Industry Pioneer, George S May.

Currently Reading: A History of Reading, Alberto Manguel. And I'm really, really liking this book, so I may have a new author I have to go searching out. I mean, to refer to seeing someone reading a book by a favored author and wanting to give them a hint you're of the same faith? Wow.


Raccoons are naturally the focus of attention! They don't need extra height but it helps!


Come, fur with us, Danny.


Jane, the bunny set out on the porch for showing off after the parade and related activities.