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Family fun: as easy as a walk in the (amusement) park 

There are times in life you aren’t quite sure how you got there, but happy it happened.  Last October I found myself with my co-worker Mark, dressed in a bear costume, acting as a “scareactor” at Canobie Lake Park’s Halloween event.  My wife and daughter were also in tow, the latter also dressed as a bear.  Mark and I were there in order to raise money for a great charity, Give Kids the World.  The bear costume part is a little harder to explain. 

I got to this point because I love amusement parks—I always have.  I can’t tell you why, but while other kids my age obsessed over baseball cards or the brand-new Nintendo Entertainment System, I pored over black and white pictures of old roller coasters.  My parents were always kind enough to indulge me and include at least one amusement park or roller coaster on our family trips, or play the part of carpool service as they picked up my friends and me at one teenage rite of passage in St. Louis- going to Six Flags.

If I had to trace my love of amusement parks to one thing it would be sitting with my Grandma Sandy, looking at picture books of Coney Island in New York and talking about the great memories she had going there, both as a teenager and mother.  I was interested in the history of rides like the infamous Cyclone as well fact that this was place was a transformative force in American social morays, even if for a brief period of time.

Through work, obsession and a little luck I was able to parlay my interest into a job.  I now sell roller coasters (among other things).  Like any other job there are good days and bad ones, but since I can include fun things like climbing 250-foot tall tower swings and having Dolly Parton at the opening of one of my coasters I can say the good days are really great.

Getting back to the bear aspect of the story; we were wearing costumes because we had sold Canobie its newest coaster “Untamed” and thought we would look scary as we roamed the park collecting money for charity.  We looked more ridiculous than scary, but the best part of the trip was the fact that it was my daughter’s first time at an amusement park.  That night as a father I got to take my daughter for her first ride, it was on the park’s classic 1902 carousel.  I don’t know if my daughter will be obsessed with amusement parks like me.  I just hope she enjoys her first big roller coaster as much as I enjoyed that first carousel ride with her.  After all, that’s why I have always enjoyed amusement parks; they are a great place to make memories.  This is why I wanted to put together an amusement park guide for the families of Baltimore at the DBFA website.  Geographically we have a lot of great parks around us, some are corporately owned, others are run by families.  Each offers their own unique brand of fun and I hope that you find a new place to make memories with your family and friends this coming summer.

DBFA volunteer Adam Sandy is sales director for the Ride Entertainment Group. His guide to local amusement parks can be found here.

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