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McGuire's Musings: Steering away from the flying saucers at your neighborhood carnival

June 14, 2013

I can smell it in the air, the aroma of hot sausage sandwiches and funnel cakes being prepared to feed the hungry masses at the Firemen's Old Home Week carnival grounds located behind the Punxy Plaza.

Wait a minute, what's that?

It's not going to happen this year?

No carnival, no hot sausage sandwiches or spinny carnival rides, no bearded lady or man.

Well, there will be an abbreviated version of Firemen's Old Home Week to be held in Barclay Square, thanks to an agreement with the Groundhog Festival, and there will be bands, rides, Bingo, hot sausage sandwiches and funnel cakes on Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29.

Tim Krise will have his "Fun Zone" in Barclay Square, which will be great for the kids and some adults, too.

It's beginning to appear that the day of the traveling carnival may be coming to an end, at least in the small rural areas like we live in.

And now we hear that Reynoldsville may be losing its carnival that was traditionally held on Route 322 in downtown for homecoming.

I grew up in Parma, Ohio, attending the carnival that was held at our church every year, and I always looked forward to it.

My two sons, Joe and Mike, have grown up on the carnival grounds,
first located at the National Guard Armory and more recently at the new grounds behind the Punxsy Plaza.

One of the rides that they both enjoyed was the Gravitron, which was a giant flying saucer-like ride that defied gravity.

I'm not a wimp when it comes to riding rides; I grew up riding the Rotor at numerous amusement parks, including Cedar Point, Geauga Lake and Euclid Beach Park in Cleveland.

Our favorite roller coaster is "The Beast" at Kings Island amusement park located near Cincinnati, Ohio.

So, when my kids wanted to ride the Gravitron, I said, "No problem."

Little did I know that my back and neck didn't agree with that assessment.

I'll never forget the first time we climbed the stairs and entered the
huge ride covered with flashing lights.

As the victims filed in, we were told to stand up straight against the wall with what were the half seats we're supposed to use to sit on.

Then it began, and the saucer-like craft began to spin, with the guy running it in the middle of the ride not appearing to move at all, while we were going round and round.

Once we reached top speed, the guy in the middle gets a huge grin on his face and begins to silently slam our bodies up and down the wall in a violent fashion.

I thought to myself, "This is not what I signed up for."

If I wanted a spinal adjustment, I would visit my friendly neighborhood chiropractor.

And so it continued for what appeared to be hours, slamming me up and down the outer wall while spinning.

Eventually, the big flying saucer-like ride did come to a stop, thankfully.

I can see why they tell you to wait on ordering sausage sandwiches or funnel cakes before riding the rides.

Looking back, it wasn't that bad, and my sons thought it was pretty neat.

I would only think that if I was a chiropractor.

I'm sure that many of you have your own carnival rides that get to you, like the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Now, that was a ride that really did do me in.

I remember the time before we had children when my wife, Linda, and I we were riding a wooden coaster at an amusement park in Pennsylvania, and we got stuck as the ride was beginning to climb the first hill and just flat out stopped.

We weren't permitted to get off the coaster until it was placed back in service, and the lawyers had us sign all of the proper legal papers.

I was just grateful it wasn't one of those coasters that run upside down like the "Corkscrew."

How cool would that be to be stuck hanging upside down while waiting for the attorneys to get together to rescue you with their pens?

That is just a few of the memories I have of the Firemen's Old Home Week Carnival.

The good news is that there will still be funnel cakes, hot sausage sandwiches, Bingo and the Firemen's Parade.

This year, an old favorite, Battle of the Barrels, has been brought back, along with fire truck rides Saturday morning, June 29, at the carnival grounds behind the Punxy Plaza.

Oww, what's that pain in the neck I have?

Oh yeah, the Gravitron.

I guess I really stuck my neck out on that one.

Larry McGuire is a reporter for the Punxsutawney Spirit. When he isn't riding carnival rides, he's riding firetrucks as a volunteer firefighter.

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