Marblehead Carnival

cropped-abbyswing.jpgIt is Abigail’s favorite time of the year. Better than Christmas, better than Hanukkah, better than birthdays… it’s the magnificent charitable rip-off known as the Marblehead Devereux Beach Carnival.

Tickets are a dollar each, little rides are 3 tickets, “big” rides that make you question the safety of frequently-moved carney rides are 4 tickets, and all rides last roughly 34 seconds. Throw in the fact that Abby needs an adult with her on big rides and the money burn rate is impressive.

The dart game is $5; the rubber turtle we won retails for 5 cents. The magnetic duckling fishing game is $3; the plastic shark prizes retail for 4 cents. The cotton candy is $4; there is no U.S. currency low enough to represent the manufacturing costs of such a small portion of cotton candy.

Still… Abby’s excitement over the carnival (and her susceptibility to parental good behavior blackmail related to its arrival) is priceless. “Didn’t do your kindergarten homework? No carnival for you! Didn’t eat your vegetables? No carnival for you! Didn’t repaint the house? NO CARNIVAL FOR YOU!!

Brady waterslide excited is too excited.
Brady waterslide excited is too excited.

Jackson, however, remains an uncooperative carnival skeptic. He will only go on “safe” rides and eyes most of the carnival experience suspiciously… if not with outright hostility. Carnival blackmail does not work on Jackson at this point. “You had better stop tackling your sister, Jackson, or no carnival for you!,” will get you a small person shrug and a, “I don’t want to go to Carnival. Carnival is not so good. Carnival for girls and doo doo heads.”

Carnival will probably never be Brady Waterslide exciting (or even fishbuckets exciting!) for Jackson… that is until carnival unveils the dinosaur fishbucket ride. There is no doubt in my mind that they are working on such a ride right now. Somewhere sits an older crusted carney, smoking a camel, leaning over a wooden crate and drawing dinosaur fishbucket ride blue prints with axle greased hands on the back of a napkin.

Carnivale d’Offderippe!

This picture illustrates much of what we learned at this year’s beach carnival visit.

Joy, anger, looking where you've been, and the giant on the swing.
Joy, anger, looking where you’ve been, and the menacing giant on the child swing.

So what’s going on here? In no particular order:

  • Abby meets her first Boston driver.
  • Abby discovers that “scary” rides are actually how she rolls. Too much success on this swing ride resulted in quick escalation to all multiple-gravity rides short of the Zipper.
  • I’m pretty sure this particular ride stole all the chains from the Hellraiser set. Anger Pinhead at your peril, Carnies…
  • The child in blue halfway through the gate is enduring the bitter public humiliation of being a “big boy” not able to overcome the Darwinian suspicion that Carnie ride maintenance should not be trusted. Take heart, keen-witted coward, you may be crying now, but you have an excellent chance to outlive all those other kids mindlessly hopping onboard duct taped machinery.
  • The “you must be this tall” sign is strictly enforced these days, but Abby’s super power is incredible on-demand vertical stretching. Take that, safety enforcers! Abby can shrink to 32 inches to get into museums for free, and then instantly grow to 42 inches to get on to big kid rides.
  • We thought a couple trips to the carnival would be good for cheap thrills; instead, we dropped a C-note in about an hour and have nothing to show for it but heightened whining from two kids who want to go back. We’re opening a daycare carnival as soon as possible. It will make billions of dollars… billions and billions of dollars.