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A Night on the Wildwood Boardwalk

by Jane Kelly

You may think that it is too early to worry about the details of your summer vacation. Maybe you just signed the lease on the rental. You figure you can worry about the rest later. I beg to differ.

I ask you to look ahead to that night the kids want to ride the amusements - and let's face it you'll be lucky to get away with only one night. Think back to when you were the kid.

Even if you had to settle for one outing to the Boardwalk rides, every night seemed like the right night to go. I'm not talking about the rides designed to please toddlers that are scattered around the shore. I am talking about the big rides.. the amusement piers where you hear the screams before you see the lights.

I am talking Wildwood.

When I was a kid, my parents held me to one trip per vacation - an event I considered the high point of any year. Since I was ten years younger than my siblings, they had no interest in hanging out with me. That left my mother - don't ask how my father got a pass but he did. I would be my mother's companion for luncheons, shopping and theatre. In turn, she would be my partner for ferris wheels, roller coasters and merry-go-rounds (a ride far too tame for my taste that we rode only at her insistence).

Why am I telling you this? Unless you love being dropped and spun and generally tossed about, count the number of children you'll be taking to the amusements. If you don't invite a buddy to make sure each kid has someone to ride with, you are going to end up on the rides. Every ride. Think about that.

Maybe you believe that's great. Maybe you are looking forward to the rides you go on every year. Maybe you are looking forward to the rides you haven't been on in many years. If so, wonderful. But promise me one thing. If you elect not to line up ride-buddies for your children, at least keep the following in mind

  1. Rides that turn in three or more directions at the same time are not meant for most adults. If you're not a stickler for telling up from down, don't worry about this one. If, however, you insist on knowing at all times in which direction gravity is pulling you, think twice about boarding an amusement where you ride in a spinning car on a spinning arm on a spinning wheel.
  2. If you are belted into the amusement more securely than John Glenn was for his first ride in space, ask yourself two questions. Why? And, after you figure that one out, am I really up for this?
  3. Remember that seemingly harmless ridesbecome lethal when boarded seconds after exiting any ride meeting the specifications described in items 1 and 2. You are hearing this from someone once hosed down by the kid running the Tilt-a-Whirl.
  4. Eat carefully before embarking on any trip to the amusements. For example, do not combine Thai and Soul Food before hopping into the car for the ride to the Boardwalk. Again, I must stress that you are hearing this from someone who was hosed down by the kid running the Tilt-a-Whirl.
  5. Take care in accepting ride recommendations from others.
  6. Do not believe anyone's claim that they have ridden the ride before unless they sign a document that carries serious financial penalties if the ride does not turn out to be a piece of cake.
  7. Do not accept the word of any personunder eleventhat any ride is piece of cake.
  8. Do remove your glasses before riding. Not so you won't lose them. The less you actually see of what is happening, the better.
  9. Do not consume high quantities of alcohol before riding. Do not consume high quantities of anything before riding.
  10. And here is the most important thing about any trip to the amusements. If, like me, you love being thrown, tossed, turned and otherwise thrilled on any amusement deserving its own circle in the hell, do carry an extra pair of jeans -- just in case the kid who runs the Tilt-a-Whirl has to hose you down. You won't have as much fun on the Maniacal Monster Masher, or whatever they are calling those rides these days, in pants that are already wet.

Click here for more photos of the Wildwood Boardwalk.

Jane Kelly is the author of three mysteries with a humorous twist set at the Jersey shore.

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