Carnival

When I was growing up the event of the year was Holy Martyr’s Carnival 1. Here is where I was introduced to rides like the Salt & Pepper Shakers, the Egg Wheel 2, the Round-Up, and the Tempest 3. These were the rides of my youth.

As the carnival date approached the inexplicable communications system of the 80’s pre-teen crowd would begin a whisper campaign which issued the exact date and time the carnival rides were going to arrive on scene and be put together. After hitting up Perkel’s Pharmacy for handfuls of Smartie pops 4,my friends and I would gather at the edge of the parking lot as the blacktop was transformed into an amusement park. In our deepest of hearts we were all hoping some mechanic would call us over for a test ride, but these hopes were never fulfilled.

The biggest night of the carnival was “bracelet night,” where you paid one fee and got unlimited rides 5. And, of course, the carnival was filled with games, prizes, and the most unhealthy food you could imagine. My parents always took my sisters and I on bracelet night, but as we got older we were allowed to head back to the carnival on our own using regular tickets. For us kids it was like having Hershey Park within walking distance.

When we moved to Palmyra I was happy to note that a nearby Catholic church, Saint Charles Borromeo, still held a carnival. We went the first couple of years we lived in town, but my kids were never that into it and we didn’t have a lot of money 6 to blow on a carnival so we kinda fell away from it. The last couple of years, however, my kids have gone back up to enjoy the rides. And my wife has gone up to stroll around with a friend, this year I was finally able to join them.

Walking on to the site, for me, is like stepping back in time. The rides may have changed 7, but the sounds and smells and sights have all remained the same. We arrived early so the crowds were not yet amassed, and this gave us a great deal more freedom to move than we expected. My daughter drug me on two rides, and I picked the Round Up for my choice 8. I wasn’t there long, as my daughter had to get somewhere, but for an hour or so it was a nice stroll into my memories — old and new.

A thrill-ride at a carnival.
Panasonic G7 with 25 mm 1.7 lens • ISO 400 • ƒ/14.0 • 1/250 sec

  1. There was also St. Genevieve’s, which attended on occasion, but the hearts of Oreland Kids were always with Holy Martyr’s. 
  2. I have no idea what the real name was, it’s was a ferris wheel with egg-shaped cars. You’d get locked inside and could rock as the wheel revolved. 
  3. Put the Tea Cups on a 45 degree angle, that’s the Tempest. 
  4. Which we washed down with 16 ounce bottles of Coke 
  5. One year I decided to test my endurance with repeat rides on the Salt & Oepper shakers. I went twenty times, went and had a slice of pizza, and then went on seven more. In my mind that’s a record. 
  6. That is, any. 
  7. Though the round up still abides. It’s now called the Zero-G, which is more accurate but not as fun. 
  8. Note to self, when suffering sinus issues to allergies, going on a high RPM ride is like having your head squeezed like a lemon. The ride is still bun, but it’s not advisable.