Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking back, taking stock, giving thanks...

It's been quite a year. I've had the honor to visit a number of parks across the country and get the word out about my book on a Pittsburgh area radio station. There's so much more ahead, but at this dark quiet Advent time, I think a look back at what I've seen would be quite fitting.

Silver Springs in Florida, "Nature's Amusement Park". While strolling through the area, I kept getting met with images of folks back in the 1950s who enjoyed the park in a different way than today's crowd. The place was exotic and rather dangerous back in the day. Imagine a typical 50s family, mom in crisp cotton and kids and dad decked out in their madras, dad with Kodak camera, kids with the Brownies, snapping pictures of creatures they'd never seen before. A safari of sorts only a few hours away from their space age, tri-level homes.

Hershey Park in PA. A chocoriffic wonderland -- the closest thing we'll probably ever have to Wonkaland.

Dorney Park, with a vintage carousel Ben remembered from his childhood back in Ohio. It had been transplanted at Dorney years ago. Ben's realization that it was indeed his childhood carousel was one of my most treasured moments thus far in my Cotton Candying.

Knoebel's. May just be my most favorite park to date. It almost taunts other parks in my mind, daring them to top it. They're remaking the Riverview Flying Turns ride, for cryeye!

Hoffman's Playland - small but sweet. The perfect park for a family treat (pardon the rhyming, but it just seemed right. You'd rhyme too if you visited Hoffman's).

Seabreeze Park -- the story behind its carousel is quite inspiring. Getting to venture INSIDE said carousel was magical.

Darien Lake in upstate New York has a wonder wheel-style Ferris wheel and an ancient plaster octopus in the lake. It's got a lot of "new" to it, but when I found these vintage touches, it made the park spring to life for me.

Arnold's Park -- A park that's had many a setback, but has always come back improved and saucy. Plus they have a rock and roll museum on the premises. I mean, come ON.

At this point in the year, it seemed that karma or the spirits that be or what have you told me that I needed to slow down or take stock or not be so cocky because they sent an actual flood which smacked us down about five grand. And so the Cotton Candying stood still for several months until...

Children's Fairyland! A fantastical storybook-themed park that holds true to its history. The puppet theatre alone is worth the journey.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk: a haunted mansion with some rocking FX, fried Twinkies and chocolate-covered bacon. These are a few of my favorite things. Oh -- and sea spray.

Silver Dollar City - where you can have a country Christmas with all the trimmings. And succotash. Can't forget the succotash.

Gotta thank God and all my angels and my Mom who sits on my shoulder from time to time for the drive and energy to continue the RoadTrip. And my most heartfelt thanks always goes to my sweetheart, my personal angel and playpal - my husband Ben, without whom none of this would be a reality. None. Not a stitch.

I must also thank all the people who generously contributed to my Kickstarter campaign, to help offset some of the travel expenses for next year's Cotton Candying. You are my spankin' new angels and I gratefully acknowledge you all!

It's been a tough year, especially with the aforementioned flood, but also career-wise (extreme highs and the quietest of lows) and Dad's health, which has made my focus stray a bit to say the least. But looking back and taking stock of my journeys I must say I accomplished all I set out to do, with a few exceptions. And what awaited me in the months after of the flood, when I really had no more funds for RoadTripping? One of my most favorite roles and shows to date: Drowsy in "The Drowsy Chaperone".

So it's Advent. And I'm amassing lists of all I've surveyed, embracing and keeping that which is good, and letting go of what has proven hurtful. Anticipation and wonder and love = good. Fear = bad and hurtful.

I suggest you give it a try, too. And a very blessed Advent season to you.

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