Like most parents, I’ve gone to my share of amusement parks with my kids. But unlike most parents, I’ve had the unique opportunity to write columns on the places throughout the states I’ve been to, like Hershey Park and local joints like the new Luna Park on Coney Island and the Gene Romano’s old Nellie Bly on Shore Parkway. So I’m sort of an expert on amusement parks — from Disneyland (in California) to Disney World (in Florida) to Busch Gardens (in Virginia).
Now at age 75, the cycle begins again with my six grandchildren.
My latest “adventure” was to Adventureland in Farmingdale on Long Island. My six grandchildren all live near Adventureland on route 110 and go there with their parents.
Now, you might not know this, but Route 110 is a great shopping road and, as most of you know by now, my wife Sharon is a shopaholic. So, we’ve passed Adventureland many times, but never went in … until a few weeks ago. And the best part is, well, you know the cliché that you only see relatives and friends at weddings and funerals?
My cousin Tina migrated from Sicily to Bensonhurst here many years ago with her family. When her daughter Joanne got married, she eventually moved to Long Island to live with her daughter, son-in-law and nine grandchildren.
I was at a wake for my cousin, also named Carmine Santa Maria, on Staten Island when I bumped into Joanne and John. Joanne has a fantastic memory for names, faces and dates, and recognized me immediately, even though I’m twice the size I was when she married John. During the Big Screecher era (which, of course, continues until this day), I would appear on TV a lot, and John would always say “Joanne, your cousin Carmine is on the news again.” Attending funerals, you get to see relatives and friends paying respect you haven’t seen in year — or decades. Joanne was my only cousin from Sicily who it was easy to converse with in English, she having been schooled in Bensonhurst.
After catching up on family, children and grandchildren, we got to talking about where she lived, where she worked, and what John does. They lived about a half hour away from my son Carl and daughter Dana. John was in the family business — Adventureland.
“What, you own Adventureland? I’m coming to see you with my six grandchildren!” I said.
A couple of weeks ago, I called and told John that I would take my handicapped scooter and family, so he arranged VIP parking for all of us.
Joanne was in the parking lot and gave the OK to security to let us in. She invited us to have lunch in the huge food court, reserved several booths and had a waitress take our orders. The kids ate fast and were dying to get out to the rides, but we grown-ups had a lot of catching up to do, much to their very anxious dismay.
We met her daughter-in-law, Jennie, and her granddaughter, Addison, John came over and gave the kids wristbands for unlimited rides.
That’s how I got to see this marvelous park while being treated like royalty.
Next week, I’ll describe the park, rides and the kid’s thrills and delights.
Screech at you then!