Yet another of the assets of our little town (population around 60,000) is the Boardwalk, named after the American word for a promenade along the top of a beach. The walkway used to be made out of wooden planks: hence boardwalk.
Ours is the number one tourist attraction in Santa Cruz County, and sits along the sea front overlooking Main Beach and past the Wharf coming from West Cliff. It looks 100% like a fun fair ought to look, all colors and rides. We’re not tourists here, but we did go regularly.
The Boardwalk is an old-fashioned fun fair, or amusement park, with free admission (you pay for the rides, of course!), and an assortment of little shops and hot dog and ice cream stands. In addition to roundabouts, bumper cars and a chair lift high over the beach, it comes complete with a big old wooden roller coaster that makes an inspiring and deafening roaring and grinding noise when you’re riding on it.
The carousel, hand carved by Charles Louff in 1911, was featured in a Dirty Harry movie, and still turns. In the movie, the villain falls through the ceiling of the carousel, with a little help from Clint Eastwood, and is impaled on something sharp. The typical ride is less stimulating and more suitable for mothers and young children!
New rides appear periodically, and there are old 1960s and 70s bands playing for free in the bandstand on the beach on summer Friday evenings. I had a great time standing on the beach two or three times to see Herman’s Hermits, part of the Merseybeat of my youth. “There’s a kind of hush, all over the world tonight:” remember? The still weirdly-dressed Tubes from San Francisco are also regulars and fun to watch.
The Boardwalk celebrated its centenary in 2007. In this part of the world, the western US, that is quite a milestone, with the town of Santa Cruz itself only incorporated in 1866 (although the mission itself was dedicated in 1794). For purposes of comparison, the University of California was founded in 1868, not 20 years after the Gold Rush jump-started the State. That wooden roller coaster ride, the Giant Dipper, first gave people that yearned for but disconcerting sinking feeling in their stomachs in 1924.
The log ride, which the Boardwalk calls the Logger’s Revenge, is where a lot of the action is! We have photos taken by the ride itself, like the big one above, and others that we were able to take ourselves, liked the smaller one a little higher still.
There’s another photo of the Log Ride taken by the Boardwalk here, and in that one we needed to doctor Charlie making another regrettable gesture. Who says children learn from their parents? When they learn what they choose, it is from their older siblings!
The best part of the log ride is that the “logs” drop down that last long slide toward the spectators, and then splash convincingly right next to them. It’s a great place for candids! So we have a nice pair of photos of Jean and two his daughters on their page, as well as this one on the left of Charlie, Alban, Maeve and me, all taken during the summer of 2005. Check out those expressions!
As a family venue, the Boardwalk became less significant for us over time, of course. First the older children decided that they could not be seen with the parents, and then the younger approached the same conclusion: such is life!
But for a while there, our older teenagers, in addition to occasional visits with their friends, would take Charlie and Alex for an evening on the rides. That was very good to see. Needless to say, all involved had a great time and came home bubbling.
So there you have it: our little town has its very own fun fair, which has somehow survived as its descendants, the Disneylands and Great Americas of this world, have outgrown it and prospered on a massive scale. Which only goes to prove that even a little roundabout with not much in the way of bells and whistles is more than enough to entertain. As Charlie and Alex demonstrate below!