We’ve always been the type with concerns–and doubts–about the safety of traveling carnivals. One minute a field or parking lot is empty. The next day it’s alive with midways, games, and booths. Then, the morning following the carnival’s last day, you happen to drive by the location those rides were at and they’re all packed up on flat-bed trailers and driving away!
No. That can’t possibly be safe… Can it?
Last week our Bandage Boys got the privilege of watching a carnival get set up at a local church for a heritage festival. Everybody was working together, but not like co-workers; they were working like friends and family. They could read each other, they knew what to do, and everything looked like it went together like a well-oiled machine. Albeit a machine from the 1970s, but a well-oiled machine all the same.
It was an educational experience for our boys, but also for Bandage Mom.
A foreman talked to us and explained briefly what was going on. He even showed the boys some of the pieces used for assembling the rides. It was very interesting, and it opened our eyes.
Not only were rides getting put together, but they were also getting cleaned. We’re not talking about hosing it down with water; we mean brushes, bleach, and cleaners of all sorts. Everything got a thorough wash, and we’re not sure if that was easier than setting up the rides!
There were people walking around with clipboards, performing inspections on everything. The carnival wasn’t set to officially open for another two days, and yet the inspections had already begun. Although they were quickly setting things up, they were being careful and precise about it.
But that wasn’t entirely what changed our view about carnivals. Nobody–not a single person–minded that a mother and her VERY young boys were walking around and watching them…and asking questions. They were mindful of their language and extremely courteous. We never felt like we were intruding, and we felt incredibly welcomed.
If they had something to hide or were careless about their projects, surely they would have asked us to leave.
On the second day that the carnival was officially open, we decided to treat the boys to some rides. We’d walked through operating carnivals before, and the boys have begged in the past to ride, but we had never allowed them. We were convinced the rides weren’t safe. Our opinions have changed.
While we were there, we happened upon the aforementioned foreman–Eric–who remember Bandage Mom and sons. We struck up a conversation before boarding the ride we had watched him assemble, called Musik Express. It was smooth, fast, fun…and felt safe.
We then joined him in a tour of many of the other rides. He was proud of his job and has been working with that carnival for about 20 years now. At one point he even mentioned his disappointment in how so many others think carnivals aren’t safe: “We’re not in this business to hurt people. We’re in it to make people happy.”
We didn’t mention to him that we used to feel that way.
That was on Saturday. We also visited the carnival yesterday. Today is Monday, and sure enough; every ride has been disassembled, folded up, and packed on flat-bed trailers, on the way to their next location. By 8am this morning, every single ride, booth, and game was only recognizable by either a name or notable element; otherwise it just looked like colorful piles of plywood, metal, plastic, and fiberglass.
But how could rides assembled in only one or two days and then suddenly be gone in one morning possibly be safe? There are individual crews working on each ride. They know it inside and out. As far as taking the rides down again…well, isn’t it easier to take things down than it is to put things up? Besides, the rides aren’t down in only a couple of hours. When the last guest leaves the carnival on the final day, the crews immediately start taking the rides apart. In this case, the carnival closed at 8pm on Sunday. By 8:30pm all rides had already started to be taken apart. The crews work through the night–while we are all sleeping–so that by the time we’re heading to work or school the next day, their job is done…and then they sleep.
We have witnessed first-hand the care and precision that goes into carnivals. It really says something when a company has nothing to hide before and during a reveal. We had only gone to watch the carnival get set up as an educational opportunity for the boys, and it ended up being an eye-opening experience for all of us. We will not pass up a carnival again, especially one put on by Carol Stream Amusements or S&T Magic Enterprises.
*Any time we talk about, mention, or review a company, group, or individual, we are never asked to do so or compensated for it. These are done so entirely on our own, with no strings attached whatsoever. We will never ask for or accept any form of payment or bartering for talking about, mentioning, or reviewing any company, group, or individual.
Have fun out there,