I posted to MamaDojo last week about our impending trip to Kennywood and tried to explain the tradition of the park, Rick Sebak, and the importance of French fries to non-Pittsburghers. I’m not sure if I did an adequate job or not. But the key takeaway is this: the annual trip to Kennywood is an essential part of growing up in Pittsburgh. There are many rituals involved, from attire to the order of rides to what food is eaten when.
Strategy: get a few of the big coasters in right away. Then proceed straight to Potato Patch for a box (yes, a box) of restorative fries.
The husband, the baby, and I made our annual trip last Wednesday and it was one of the best Kennywood visits we’ve ever had. The weather was gorgeous and it wasn’t crowded, which meant no extremely long waits for rides. This was good because I woke up feeling not so great and I ended up riding the bench a couple of times throughout the day, but didn’t risk wasting much time doing so.
When I was a kid, going to Kennywood meant freaking out on thrill rides and shooting furtive glances at boys. Looking back, it was also usually a rare occasion when my parents and I would spend the day together and have fun for the most part. When the baby became big enough to go and actually ride things, I remember being really excited to share the experience with him. And after a few touch-and-go moments on the Pirate Ship, I could tell he was hooked.
I think what he really likes about it is that it’s the three of us playing together. We all pile into the Racer and boo the other coaster or scream throughout the Phantom’s Revenge. I don’t think anyone would ever accuse the husband or me of being overly mature, but we’re definitely parents. And for a day we get to be kids with our kid.
The baby is still too short to ride the Thunderbolt or the Sky Rocket, so we missed out on those. But it was on some of the tamer rides that we had the best moments of the day. He and I rode the Bayern Kurve together and he cracked up the whole time. Hearing him just goofy with happiness for a few minutes straight was just…awesome.
We had saved a few rides for the night because they look the coolest in the dark and with the lights on. One of these was the Paratrooper. The baby and I sat together and the husband was in the parachute behind us. Again, the baby laughed and oohhed the whole time. It was wonderful. He’s getting to an age where he’s trying to appear older and tougher than he is. Hearing the little boy that is still inside of him made me find the little girl that is still inside of me and I laughed right along with him.
At the end of the day, the husband and the baby wanted to squeeze in one more ride on the Phantom’s Revenge. I had had enough for the day and waited for them on a nearby bench. I watched people file out with absurdly huge stuffed animals and kids look for the parents with only the vaguest sense of panic. I listened to that old song that they always play at the end of the day and felt the twinkly lights on the rides warm my skin.
After they had managed to do not one but two final rides, the husband and the baby and I made our way out, too, pausing to document our sweaty, gleeful, fry-stuffed selves in front of the sweet “Goodnight” heart.
Then came my favorite part: walking through the tunnel toward the exit. Everyone whoops and hollers and giggles at the echo as they shuffle along, the mark of a perfect summer day firmly pressed into their memory. Nobody looks back because they’ve all had their fill and the best part of the night is yet to come: that glorious post-Kennywood shower and sinking your tired feet into bed.
Because the folks at Kennywood want everyone to be able to experience a perfect day like this, they want to give you a chance to win four free tickets to the park. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below. You can also earn additional entries by posting a link to this giveaway on Twitter and Facebook. Just be sure to leave a comment here with a link to your tweet or Facebook post. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday, July 26th. Good luck!
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to Kennywood in exchange for hosting this giveaway.
Update: And our winner is…Gina! Congratulations, Gina!