Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good Family Fun

Last week we visited the annual Ballona Creek Festival in Culver City. The name is a bit of a misnomer. Ballona Creek, for those of you not in Los Angeles, is not a babbling brook of cool running water winding its way under swaying Eucalyptus trees. It's more of a U-shaped cement river that drains all the dirty run-off from L.A. and dumps it all into the glistening brown vastness of Santa Monica Bay.

But the Festival was fun and it had all accouterments one might expect: a petting zoo, a small midway, and the junior thrill rides that can be rolled from town to town from the back of an 18-wheeler.

I've come to realize there is a caste system amongst the moms and pops who operate these trucks/amusement rides. At the top of the pecking order is the lucky guy or gal who gets the roller coaster. How they manage to pack a miniature roller coaster on the back of a truck is a feat only surpassed by the new iPod nano.

Next up is the Tower Slide. I'm a sucker for this. You climb to the top, sit on a burlap bag and slide down a 100 foot spiral. Not a lot of moving parts. And not a lot that can be screwed up by some Carnie hopped up on crystal meth.

At the bottom, there is the runt of the litter. The last ride any self-respecting ride operator wants to attach his name to -- The RoundUp. You may recognize this small wonder of centrifugal force.

I don't think I need to explain why this is the Rodney Dangerfield of rides other than to consider the alternate names for the RoundUp, including:

The Hurl-A-Tron
The Bulemia Blaster
The Chunkmaker
The SplatterMaster
The Finger Fisher

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