Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Kiddie Park

Kiddie Park roller coaster
Originally uploaded by ezeiza
Today we renewed a family tradition. We went to the Kiddie Park in Johnstone Park. For those not from Bartlesville, the Kiddie Park is small amusement park in Bartlesville primarily aimed at small children. The perfect age is 5. By the time a child gets to six some of the rides are already too small. The park is maintained mainly through donations and volunteers. There are sixteen rides, most of them variants of going around slowly in a circle. Many of the rides are vintage things kept running through loving care. The biggest ride is the roller coaster. The highest hill is about 12 feet tall. Tickets cost 25 cents and most of the rides cost 1 ticket. The remainder cost 2 tickets.

One of the highlights is the miniature train which runs out into Johnstone Park and back, running through a "tunnel" (really the shed the train is kept in in the winter) where it is traditional for young girls to scream in pitches not usually possible for humans. If you stay until closing time, the last train ride is free.

It's a gentle place. There are loud speakers playing music, but unless you right under them they serve mostly as background noise. None of the rides have loudspeakers or the like, so they just make a quiet clacking sound as they run. The child to adult ratio is pretty close to 1:1 the families with Mom, Dad, and grandparents along to watch the single child have fun, match the few families with multiple kids. The kids are remarkably well behaved. The kids running the rides are basically recent graduates from being customers. The park hires 14 and 15 year old kids, giving them an early chance at learning job skills and get some experience. because of the short hours and sub-minimum wage pay the kids can expect to earn about 400 bucks a summer. The Elder Daughter is already plotting what she will do with her riches when she is old enough to work there in a few years.

I was very glad to be able to got today. I was worried Monday. Last year the flooding in Bartlesville flooded the Park. It was closed most of the summer. Monday the river was up high again. Some major roads were closed and the water was into Johnstone Park. The Kiddie Park stayed dry and the water was ten feet lower today.

The kids had good time. The Younger Daughter rode the roller coaster for the first time and came off squeaking "I love it, I love it". The Elder Daughter got in four rides. The younger daughter demonstrated that you can dye significant portions of your body blue with a single snow cone. (BTW, who in the hell decided that blue was the appropriate color for raspberry?) The only down side is that a few of the rides including the train were down for repairs. With luck, and if the river don't rise, we will be back a dozen or more times this summer.

Note: The picture above is from Flickr and not from today's trip.

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